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China's simulation brings down the US B-21 bomber in virtual battle

In the intense race for air dominance between China and the United States, a groundbreaking virtual clash orchestrated by a daring team of Chinese researchers has provided a glimpse into the future battleground. Led by Associate Professor Chen Jun from Northwestern Polytechnical University, the team's simulation revealed a chilling capability for China to seize the initiative by detecting adversaries first, showcasing the power of cutting-edge hardware and revolutionary tactics.

The simulation portrayed a B-21-esque stealth aircraft and its drone succumbing to China's hypersonic air-to-air missiles, reaching an astonishing Mach 6. However, the narrative intensifies if the United States retaliates, leading to a protracted struggle for air dominance, described by the research team as a complex and intense maelstrom lasting an hour.

Source: Northrop Grumman's site at Air Force Plant 42, during B-21 Raider's first flight - David Swanson/Reuters

On November 10, the much-anticipated maiden flight of the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider took place. Despite its seemingly modest cruising speed below the sound barrier at 1,000 km/h, this next-gen stealth bomber is set to play a pivotal role in the US Air Force's Penetrating Counter Air (PCA) strategy, specifically designed for potential confrontations with the Chinese military.

The B-21, with radar invisibility akin to a mosquito, holds the capability to penetrate deep into enemy territory, unleashing a barrage of missiles or bombs, and disrupting the core defense infrastructure. Its unique ability to fly alongside stealth drones, armed with numerous air-to-air missiles, positions it as a formidable force in aerial combat.

Source: Joint Air Battle Management System - Lockheed Martin

China, in response to the looming threat of the US Air Force’s Penetrating Counter Air (PCA) strategy, showcased countermeasures in the simulation. The use of revolutionary "conformal skin" allowed a Chinese aircraft to silence its radar while maintaining situational awareness by detecting electric or heat signals from distant targets.

As the virtual battleground intensifies, China's supersonic stealth aircraft, outpacing their American counterparts, display the ability to fly considerably faster. Equipped with hypersonic missiles boasting unparalleled in-flight maneuverability, they efficiently track and eliminate stealth aircraft.

However, victory is not solely determined by hardware, as cautioned by the researchers. In a suspenseful simulation, the US stealth aircraft, armed with cutting-edge sensors, detected and evaded a Chinese missile launch. The Chinese missile adapted, seamlessly transferring its mission to another hypersonic counterpart, catching the US aircraft off guard.

Source: China's stealth combat fighter J20

Crucially, the researchers unveil a paradigm shift in air battle decision-making, empowering China's anti-PCA tactic with a higher degree of freedom through swift transitions between humans, drones, and missiles using AI technology. The simulation defies expectations by showcasing hypersonic missiles executing sharp turns post-launch, unlocking attack plans deemed impossible

Embracing this revolutionary tactic demands powerful AI algorithms, challenging traditional practices in Air Force training and operations. The researchers boldly assert that the pioneer of this reform could emerge as the undisputed ruler of the skies, ushering in a new era in aerial warfare.


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