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China’s CATL Plans 1,800-Mile Electric Plane Launch by 2027

China’s CATL Plans 1,800-Mile Electric Plane Launch by 2027

Chinese battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL) has provided an exciting update on its ongoing partnership project focused on developing electric manned aircraft.

This ambitious project aims to significantly advance the electric aviation industry, promising to deliver remarkable performance and range for civil aircraft.

CATL has been working on a groundbreaking innovation in the field of electric aviation. The company’s efforts have already yielded successful results, as demonstrated by the recent test flight of a 4-ton electric plane powered by CATL’s ultra-high energy density battery. The results of this test mark a significant milestone in the development of electric aviation technology.

Unveil an 8-ton civil electric aircraft by 2028

Looking ahead, CATL has set its sights on an even more impressive goal. By 2028, the company expects to unveil an 8-ton civil electric aircraft capable of achieving a flight range of approximately 1,200 to 1,800 miles (2,000 to 3,000 kilometers).

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This development is anticipated to be a major leap forward for the sector, potentially transforming the future of civil aviation.

Zeng Yuqun, the founder of CATL, revealed that the company has already conducted test flights with a 4-ton civilian aircraft utilizing their new battery technology. The samples and panel line product have already been integrated into planes, demonstrating the feasibility and readiness of this innovation.

Developing a new generation of sodium-ion batteries

In addition to its advancements in electric aircraft, CATL is also developing a new generation of sodium-ion batteries. Zeng announced that these innovative batteries are expected to be released next year, highlighting the company’s commitment to pioneering new technologies in the energy sector.

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Aerospace

China’s Fighter Jets Turn Wings into Autonomous Drones

China's Fighter Jets Turn Wings into Autonomous Drones

In a striking display of aerospace innovation, Chinese engineers have reportedly tested a groundbreaking “combiner” blended-wing stealth aircraft with detachable drone wings.

This transformative technology, reminiscent of fictional “combiner” Transformers, was showcased during a test flight at an undisclosed airport near the Mu Us Desert’s southern edge.

The stealth fighter, equipped with powerful twin-engine turbofans and a sleek delta-wing design, demonstrated unprecedented versatility. During the flight, segments of its wings detached, seamlessly transforming into two separate “flying wing” drones powered by electric fans.

This capability marks a significant leap in aerial warfare, enabling the fighter to deploy autonomous drones mid-flight for strategic operations.

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Future stealth fighters will prioritize integration with drones

Yang Wei, chief designer of China’s J-20 stealth fighter, emphasized that future iterations will prioritize seamless integration with drones. The development includes plans for a two-seater variant of the J-20 to enhance operational coordination with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), reflecting China’s strategic focus on combined arms tactics.

The next-generation stealth fighter design integrates two drones directly into the aircraft’s delta wing structure, departing from earlier attempts that fixed drones to wingtips.

This innovative “rear edge docking configuration,” connecting leading edges of the drones to the fighter’s trailing edge, enhances stability during separation. However, it poses challenges such as managing significant changes in the aircraft’s center of gravity and aerodynamic balance.

FCC-100 flight control computer ensures precise control

To address these complexities, Du’s team developed advanced algorithms capable of analyzing and compensating for disturbances like wind changes during drone separation. Both the fighter and the drones utilize the cutting-edge FCC-100 flight control computer from Northwestern Polytechnical University, ensuring precise control and maneuverability.

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While specific details about the test flight date remain classified, the project signifies remarkable advancements in aircraft stability and control. These developments pave the way for practical applications in future combat scenarios.

Chinese scientists are also exploring additional technologies like plasma stealth and advanced airflow management to further enhance the capabilities of their next-generation fighters.

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