In recent years, numerous types of UAVs have been developed in China by various universities, research institutes and manufactures. However most of them failed to enter series production or the service due to the poor performance and relatively primitive technology utilized. As a result, only a handful modern UAVs with sufficient technological sophistication are lucky enough to enter the service with PLA. It was reported (January 2012) that the first sub-orbital flight of a new unmanned spacecraft (Divine Dragon) took place successfully in 2011 onboard a rocket booster. The spacecraft is thought to be similar to American X-35B in configuration but smaller. It has been developed by the 611 Institute. The latest news (September 2015) suggested that an unmanned "hypersonic cruising vehicle" (~Mach 4) featuring a turbojet/ramjet combined cycle engine (TBCC) was tested for the first time after being released from an H-6 carrier. After the hypersonic flight the HCV returned to the base and landed safely. The HCV was also developed by the 611 Institute and is expected to enter the service as a strategic reconnaissance UAV in the next few years even though it is slower and less advanced than the proposed American SR-72.


A column of PLA Army JWS01 UCAV launch vehicles were on display during the parade celebrating the 90th Anniversary of PLA, each carrying 6 UCAVs. Previously acquired secretly from Israel in 1994, this highly classified UCAV (called Harpy) was unknown to the West until 2004 when they were returned to Israel for upgrade. Developed by IAI in the early 90s, Harpy is the first UCAV which features a passive radar seeker and can be used as a long-range anti-radiation weapon to attack enemy radar stations. Its range is 500km, max speed 185km/hr, warhead 32kg. One Harpy UCAV launch vehicle can carry 18 box launchers. In 2004 Chinese were trying have them upgraded by Israelis but the attempt was discovered and subsequently blocked by the US government. All UCAVs were returned to China without any upgrades. Images from April 2011 suggested that Chinese have developed their own version of Harpy (JWS01) by reverse-engineering which likely started around 2005. Two new types of seeker with slightly different sizes have been identified (Type I & Type II?), suggesting different homing frequencies. However the launch vehicle now carries only 6 launchers instead of 18. The latest news (February 2017) suggested that the UCAV has been offered for export as ASN-301, which features two pairs of retractable stabilizing blades pointing straight above and below the main body. The radar homing seeker has a search range of 25km and a frequency coverage of 2-16GHz.
- Last Updated 10/7/17

BZK-005 Giant Eagle

A PLAAF BZK-005 reconnaissance UAV was displayed publicly while preparing for the 2015 VJ Day Parade on September 3rd. BZK-005 was developed by BUAA and Harbin Aviation Industrial Group (HAIG) in early 2000s as a medium/high altitude long range reconnaissance UAV for strategic missions. Its prototype was unveiled briefly in an AVIC promotional video at the 2006 Zhuhai International Airshow. The UAV features a stealth optimized fuselage, a three propeller pusher piston engine, and twin tail booms with V-shaped tailfins. A SATCOM antenna is thought to be installed inside the head bulge, which provides live data transmission over thousands of kilometers. A small turret is installed underneath the nose housing the FLIR/CCD cameras. Those can be used for photo reconnaissance if needed. The UAV also features a large wingspan and is constructed using a large amount of composite materials. These help to increase its range and cruising altitude, while reduce its RCS. Its specifications are: cruising speed 150-180km/hr, service ceiling 8,000m, endurance 40hr, max TO weight <1,250kg, max payload >150kg, TO distance <600m, landing distance <500m. Currently BZK-005 is in service with PLAN as well (dubbed Sea Eagle?).
- Last Updated 9/2/15


A PLA Army BZK-006 (WZ-6 or K/JWR6?) tactical reconnaissance UAV was on display during the 60th National Day military parade on October 1, 2009 onboard its launch vehicle. This light-weight medium-range UAV has been evolved from the earlier ASN-206/207 general purpose platform (T-18) developed in mid-90s by Northwest Polytechnic University (NTU). BZK-006 carries a retractable turret underneath the nose housing the FLIR/CCD cameras for day/night missions. It can also carry a small ground surveillance radar as well. A mushroom shaped communication antenna is installed on top of the head section which provides the real-time datalink between the UAV and the ground command & control station. Each station can control two UAVs at a same time. Some specifications: length 4.3m, height 1.5m, endurance 12hr. BZK-006 is powered by a 4-cylinder piston engine. It uses rocket assisted take off (RATO) and parachute landing. Additional variants were developed for specialized missions such as artillery directing (JWP01A/JWP02), communication jamming (RKT164, RKT167), communication relay (TKJ226), decoy (RKL165), ECM (RKZ167) and radar jamming
- Last Updated 10/5/17

BZK-007 Sunshine

BZK-007 medium altitude/long endurance (MALE) UAV was co-developed by GAAC and BUAA in the early 2000s and was unveiled briefly at the 2006 Zhihai Airshow. It first flew on August 8, 2005 as a civilan remote sensoring system (Harrier Hawk). Currently the UAV has also been in service with PLA Army and Navy as a tactical reconnaissance UAV (designation BZK-007). It can carry a variety of equipment including FLIR, CCD TV camera, as well as remote sensors of different spectral bands. Most EO sensors are located inside a turret underneath the fuselage right behind the wing section. A SATCOM antenna inside a large dorsal bulge provides real-time transmission of data and commands between the UAV and the ground control station. BZK-007 UAV is powered by a piston engine with a 3-blade propeller and is able to take off/land autonomously with retractable or non-retractable landing gears. Some specifications: length 7.7m, height 2.74m, wingspan 14.6m,max TO weight 700kg, mission payload 60-100kg, max level speed 230km/hr, ceiling 7,500m, endurance 16 hr.
- Last Updated 6/29/15


Recent photos taken during the 2015 VJ Day Parade in Beijing showed a new small tactical reconnaissance UAV (BZK-008/CH-91?) which first entered the service with PLA Army in 2011. Developed by CASC, the UAV carries a retractable EO turret containing FLIR and CCD camera for both day and night missions. BZK-008 is light-weight and can be deployed quickly on the battlefield using RATO. Due to its short range, the intelligence gathered is transmitted directly back to the ground station. 
- Last updated 9/17/15


A WZ-2000 model was on display at the 2004 Zhuahi Airshow. Also known as WZ-9 (K/JWR9?), this reconnaissance stealth UAV has been under development at GAAC since 1999. Its stealth design features a fuselage with a flat bottom surface blended seamlessly with long swept wings to reduce RCS (<1m2 head-on). A single turbofan engine (WS-11) sits on top of the tail section with its intake shielded by the wing section and its exhaust nozzle shielded by twin "V" shaped tailfins to reduce both radar and IR signatures. WZ-9 carries a large satellite communication antenna inside its head bulge for real-time transmission of images and ELINT data back to the ground control station. It also carries FLIR and CCD cameras inside a turret underneath its nose for navigation and photo reconnaissance. A synthetic aperture radar (SAR) could be installed underneath its fuselage as well. WZ-9 looks generally similar to American Global Hawk long-range stealth UAV but has a smaller size and a shorter range. Some specifications: length 7.5m, wingspan 9.8m, max TO weight 1.7t, mission payload 80kg, max level speed 800km/h, ceiling 18,000m, combat radius 800km, endurance 3hr. WZ-9 first flew on December 26, 2003. Its improved version (BZK-009) first flew in 2006. The UAV entered limited service with PLA Department of Chief Staff in 2007 and conducts only strategic reconnaissance missions. The latest images (December 2014) indicated that a new UAV (Wind Shadow) was undergoing taxiing test at CAC. It features a dorsal engine compartment with two small engine exhausts to reduce IR and radar signatures. The engine is thought to be two 500kg class WS-500 turbofans.
- Last Updated 11/14/15


Around 200 retired J-6/Mig-19 fighters are thought to have been converted to UAVs as B-6 (J-6W?) drones. The aircraft had the wing-root 30mm guns, ejection seat and other life support systems removed. New remote flight control, navigational (GPS?) and fire control systems including datalink were installed. They are believed to have been stationed in Southeast China facing Taiwan (S/N 794xx). Some B-6s are seen carrying two 250kg bombs under the wings, suggesting their role as low-cost ground attack UCAVs, or as cruise missiles or decoys to probe, disrupt even suppress enemy air defence systems. Therefore the guidance system might include passive radar homing for anti-radiation missions. It was rumored that a further upgraded variant has been developed with the cockpit completely removed. Depending on the cost, B-6 could be modified to fly additional missions including ELINT, ECM and laying naval mines.
- Last Updated 10/22/16