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Wing-Loong Lethal UAS

Superficially somewhat similar to the United States MQ-9 Reaper made by General Atomics, the Pterodactyl-1 can carry 440 pounds combined of both weapons and reconnaissance gear, has a range of 2,500 miles and can remain aloft for 20 hours. The Wing-Loong UAS series were developed by Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute (CADI) of the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China. Chengdu Aircraft Design & Research Institute (CADI), a subsidiary of the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) in southwest China's Sichuan Province, has gained the world's attention with its Wing Loong Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS).

The lineup of China's indigenously-developed Wing Loong UAS series, -- Wing Loong I, Wing Loong ID, and Wing Loong II -- with their carried payloads, made the public debut to the world at the 2016 China Airshow in November in south China' s Zh uhai. Since its kick-off in 2005, Wing Loong UAS program has been upgraded to the second generation in the past decade.

The aircraft has been exported to Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia and Russia, among others. Serbia announced 10 September 2019 it would buy nine Chinese military drones. While Chinese civilian drones dominate the world market, this will be the first time Chinese-made unmanned aerial vehicles had been sold to a European country, and it might go as far as purchasing 15 more.

The arrival in Libya of Chinese-made Wing Loong drones in 2016 made a significant difference to the military capabilities of eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA). First used in the battle for Derna in eastern Libya, the drones had a decisive impact on the outcome as forces loyal to Haftar battled fighters from the Shura Council of Mujahideen in a brutal confrontation for the city.

These Chinese-made drones - operated by pilots from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and flown out of the Al Khadim airbase in the east - have a combat radius of 1,500km (932 miles), meaning they can deliver precision-guided missiles and bombs, striking anywhere in the country. These drones were used to great effect in the battle for Tripoli, which General Haftar announced in April 2019 against the GNA. Government forces were repeatedly pushed back into a tight pocket as the capital was besieged by the LNA. For all the talk of "precision" air strikes, the civilian casualty toll mounted as targets were hit in increasingly built-up urban areas.

Wing Loong I - Chengdu Pterosaur

Wing Loong I UAS has a length of 9 meters, height of 2.7 meters and wing span of 14 meters. Its maximum flight speed is 280 km per hour, with a maximum payload of 200 kg and endurance of about 20 hours. Wing Loong I has established a good reputation among customers at home and abroad since it hit the market. Wing Loong I UAS has gained orders from multiple countries and has been on active service for the Chinese People's Liberation Army(PLA). According to the US magazine Foreign Policy, Wing Loong I has been sold to several countries in Africa and the Middle East, including Nigeria, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, for an estimated $1 million per unit.

According to CATIC, Wing Loong was developed independently by China with full intellectual property rights, meeting the requirements of the international market. The project was started in 2005 and the maiden flight took place in 2007. The 49th Paris - Le Bourget International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition (Paris Air Show), one of the most reputable air shows in the world, concluded on 26 June 2011. One of the shows highlights was the latest model Wing-Loong, a Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), exhibited at the AVIC & CATIC booth. The Wing Loong is designed for reconnaissance, electronic countermeasures (ECM), and light ground attack missions. Another Executive Vice President of AVIC, Mr. Li Yuhai, said the Wing Loong, which is a middle and high end UAV, will be perfected in practice. Through this model, AVIC shall show global customers its capability in the field of UAVs.

The Wing Loong I UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) was developed as an integrated multipurpose UAS for medium-altitude flying and HALE reconnaissance and combat by Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute (CADI) and AVIC in response to international market demands. Wing Loong I UAS consists of 4 UAVs, one set of a ground control station, one set of an integrated logistic support system and one set of mission payload.

Some of the features of the Wing Loong I UAS include fully autonomic takeoff and landing capabilities, cruise flight, air-ground coordination and ground relay control. As a critical sub-system with multi-redundancy or backup configuration, it is equipped with an encrypted data link, user-friendly computer interface, all-round integrated logistic support system, loadable mature photoelectric detection equipment, electronic surveillance device and small scale space precision attack weapons, which enable long flight and ensure mission completions under complex environmental conditions.

Wing Loong I UAS is capable of many operations such as battlefield intelligence acquisition line by line; surveillance and reconnaissance; timely fighting against small agile targets; electronic surveillance and executions for interference missions; anti-terrorism/riot monitoring missions; timely attacks or non-fatal deterrence; border patrol; anti-narcotics, anti-smuggling and other security tasks; complete resource surveys; pipeline patrol; disaster surveillance and evaluation; as well as other civilian missions.

Wing Loong I - Chengdu Pterodactyl

The second member of Wing Loong series is distinguished from the earlier Pterosaur I in that there is a bulge at the nose tip of the fuselage to house a satellite antenna. This is the version most widely publicized and actively marketed as a surveillance platform. United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan were reported to be the first two foreign customers of Pterodactyl I.

Wing Loong I - Sky Saker

Sky Saker is a derivative of Wing Loong developed by Norinco mainly intended for export. The Chinese name is Rui Ying, meaning Sharp Eagle, but the English name adopted by the developer is Sky Saker [a saker (Falco cherrug) is a large species of falcon, a grayish-brown Old World falcon]. Sky Saker / Rui Ying carries both a miniature synthetic aperture radar and an electro-optical pod to perform reconnaissance in both the visible light and radar spectra. The capability of Sky Saker / Rui Ying has been exaggerated by many Chinese internet sources claiming that it has both scout and strike capabilities at the same time, but this has been proven to the contrary. According to all info released by Norinco itself (as of 2015), the UAV can employ only a single capability at a time: when the UAV carries the reconnaissance payload, no weaponry is carried. Similarly, when weaponry is carried, the reconnaissance payload is absent.

Wing Loong I - WJ-1

The WJ-1 was the first land attack version of Pterodactyl I, which is a weapon platform without the reconnaissance/targeting pod under the chin. The designation WJ stands for Wu-Zhuang Wu-Ren-Ji, meaning armed UAV. WJ-1 UAV made its public debut in November 2014 at the 10th Zhuhai Airshow along with its cousin GJ-1.

Wing Loong I - GJ-1

The GJ-1 is a land attack variant of Pterodactyl I that combines the capabilities of the Pterodactyl I and WJ-1 so that it can both identify and engage targets. GJ-1 can be distinguished from both Pterodactyl I and WJ-1 in that GJ-1 has both the reconnaissance/targeting pod under the chin as well as hardpoints to carry weapons. The designation GJ stands for Gong-Ji Wu-Ren-Ji, meaning "attack UAV." GJ-1 UAV made its public debut in November 2014 at the 10th Zhuhai Airshow along with its cousin WJ-1.

Wing Loong II

China's domestic developed Wing-Loong II, the new reconnaissance and strike multi-role endurance Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), successfully completed its maiden flight 27 February 2017. With a more than 20 meter wingspan, the yellow Wing-Loong II No.01 made its appearance on the runway of a highland airfield in western China, before conducting a 31-minute flight.

"Its flight marks China's new generation reconnaissance and strike UAS. Following the United States, China becomes another country capable of developing such new generation large reconnaissance and strike UAS," said Li Yidong, chief designer of the Wing-Loong UAS series.

The AVIC unveiled the concept of Wing Loong II at the Aviation Expo China in Beijing in September 2015, while a prototype was displayed to the public at the 11th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, in November last year.

The upgraded-version Wing Loong II UAS is 11 meters long, 4.1 meters high, with a wing span of 20.5 meters. Its maximum flight altitude reaches 9,000 meters and maximum flight speed is 370 km per hour, with a loiter time of 20 hours and maximum payload of 480kg. It is enhanced comprehensively in terms of platform performance and strike & reconnaissance capabilities. Its larger and better platform makes stronger propulsion and higher performance possible. It also has the increased payload capacity and carrying capability. With a much larger size, the Wing Loong II is capable of carrying up to 12 laser-guided bombs or missiles, up to have a total weight of 480 kg. By contrast, Wing Loong I can carry only two bombs or missiles together weighing 100 kg.

Li said it showed that China had the capability to deliver new generation reconnaissance and strike UAS products to foreign military customers. In fact, the Wing-Loong II has already won the biggest overseas purchase order in the history of Chinese UAS foreign military sales, even before its maiden flight.

The Wing-Loong II is a medium-altitude, long-endurance, multi-role UAS integrated with both reconnaissance and strike capabilities. It is composed of the Wing-Loong II unmanned aircraft, GCS, mission payload and a ground support system. Its unmanned aircraft is 11 meters in length, 4.1 meters in height, and 20.5 meters in wingspan. The maximum flying altitude of the aircraft is 9km, with a flying speed reaching up to 340km per hour. It has a maximum take-off weight of 4.2 tonnes, with an external carriage weight of 480kg, and can fly for 20 hours in a persistent mission cruise.

Li said that the Wing-Loong II could perform reconnaissance, surveillance and ground strike missions. "It can rapidly identify then strike against time-critical and fleeting targets. The capability is not possessed by previous unmanned aircraft, even manned aircraft," Li said. "Taking a look at the UAS in same class around the world, the Wing-Loong II is equivalent to the U.S. MQ-9 Reaper, and ranks in the first level on the UAS list." In fact, the payload is about a quarter of the MQ-9, and the ceiling decidedly lower

With a system extension, it can also perform intelligence collection, electronic warfare, search and rescue missions, and has several uses, including military, anti-terrorism, peace keeping, border patrol operations and civilian use.

"The advanced drone will help China obtain a bigger share in the international market because it will be one of the most capable military drones in the market," said Wang Ya'nan, deputy editor-in-chief at Aerospace Knowledge magazine. "The Wing Loong II is equipped with a satellite data link system, so it can operate in an environment with bad ground signals, which means it can be of great use to nations that have vast mountainous areas or plateaus," he said. "In addition, the drone will be very attractive to countries that now deploy the Wing Loong I, as they have realized the good capabilities and reliability of Chinese-made drones." Possible customers for the Wing-Loong II are rumored to include Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt.

Chinese arms firms have been active providers of military-use drones in the international market, as CH series and Wing Loong series drones can often be seen in the Middle East and Africa. As of December 2018, 100 Wing Loong drones had been delivered to foreign clients. Chinese weapons and equipment are well known on the international market not only because of their high efficiency and low cost, but also good after-sales services and logistics support, observers said, noting that China does not attach political conditions to arms sales, unlike some countries such as the US.

Wing-Loong IWing-Loong IIMQ-9 Reaper
Aircraft length 9m
Aircraft altitude 2.8 m
Wingspan 14 m 67 feet (20.5 meters)66 feet (20.1 meters)
Maximum takeoff weight 1150 kg 9,260 pounds (4,200 kg)10,500 pounds (4,760 kilograms)
Maximum altitude 7500 m 29,527 feet50,000 feet (15,240 meters)
Maximum speed 280 km/h
Maximum endurance 20 h 20 hours
Normal takeoff distance =800 m
Landing roll =800 m
Maximum task load 200 kg 1,058 pounds (480 kg)3,750 pounds (1,700 kilograms)

Wing Loong I

Wing Loong II

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Page last modified: 06-07-2020 19:42:11 ZULU