A PLAAF WD-1KUCAV was taking off. This medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UCAV similar to American MQ-1 Predator has been developed by the 611 Institute/CAC/GAAC since 2005 known as Wing Loong I/Pterosaur I. First flight took place in October 2007. It features a head bulge which houses a SATCOM antenna, which allows the UCAV to communicate with the ground control station via a satellite, a communication relay UAV, or direct signal transmission. An EO turret (Loong Eye?) housing FLIR/TV/laser range finder/laser designator is mounted under its nose for tracking and locking on ground targets in poor weather conditions. As the result the UCAV can not only direct the missiles launched by itself, but also guide the PGMs launched by other aircraft or by the ground force. It is powered by a 100hp ROTAX 914 piston engine. The UCAV normally carries two KD-10 laser guided ATGMs as its primary weapon. In 2012 UAE was believed to have become the first foreign customer of Wing Loong I. Saudi Arabia is also believed to have acquiredWing Loong I in 2014, armed with BA-7/KD-10 ATGMs.One was lost over Yemen in September 2016.More Wing Loong Is were produced for new foreign customers. Two were reportedly delivered to Kazakhstan in March 2016. Pakistani AF is also believed to have been evaluating Wing Loong during mid-2016. Other countries operating the UCAV include Egypt, which acquired a few Wing Loong Is in 2016.An image taken during the SCO Peace Mission 2014 military exercise confirmed thatthe UCAV calledWD-1K/GJ-1 has been in service with PLAAF Flight Test & Training Base as its first operational UCAV (S/N 76x2x, 78x9x). Some specifications: weight 1,100kg, max speed 280km/hr, range 4,000km, endurance 20hr, service ceiling 5,000m, weapon load 200kg. It was first unveiled in September 2015 that a bigger and more powerful variant called Wing Loong II (WD-2K?) is currently under development at the 611 Institute. It is powered by a new turboprop engine (WJ-9? 456kW) and can carry up to 12 ATGMs. Its MTOW is 4,200kg, max external load is 480kg, max speed is 370km/hr, ceiling is 9,000m, endurance is 20hr. The UCAV also has an SAR radar installed in its nose for acquiring ground target in poor weather conditions. The maiden flight of the 01 prototype took place on February 27, 2017. Wing Loong II wasspeculatedto have been ordered by both PLAAF as well as by Saudi Arabia (300?). The latest images (October 2017) indicated that Wing Long II has been undergoing weapon integration tests by dropping LS-6 100kg class GPS/laser guided bombs.
- Last Updated 10/4/17
Besides Wing Loong, another long-range semi-stealth UAV called EA-03has been developed by 611 Institute and GAAC. This large UAV features a
box/diamond wing design to increase lift while reducing drag and weight. EA-03 reportedly weighs 7,500kg and has a range of 7,000km, a cruising speed of
750km/hr and a cruising altitude of 18,000m. A technology demonstrator called Soaring Dragon was first built at CAC for ground testing in 2011. Subsequently it underwent
substantial redesign based on the issues revealed during the tests. The new redesigned EA-03 appears to feature several major changes. It has a smaller length and wingspan. It also has twin vertical slanted tailfins extending outwards plus twin ventral stabilizing fins. This gives the UAV a lower profile than its predecessor. Similar to BZK-009, it has a head bulge housing a SATCOM antenna, as well asa dorsal air intake. The engine was speculated to be a turbojet initially and later the domesticAI-222-25 turbofan without A/B developed by the 649 Institute. Threesmall optical windows can be seen underneath the nose which could house FLIR andTV cameras. Another small fairing is installed under the rear fuselage probably for ELINT purpose. The UAV is expected to fly long-range recon and EW missions. It was rumored that a EA-03 prototype was built by mid-2012 and first flight took place in late 2012 at the GAAC airfield. Currently EA-03 is in production at GAAC and has entered the service with PLAAF as a strategic HALE recon UAV. The latest satellite image (August 2017) indicated that EA-03 was deployed in Tibet during the Doklam standoff with India.
- Last Updated 10/6/17
This large high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) UAV has been under development at 601 Institute/SAC since the last decade as an "anti-stealth" AEW platform. The UAV features a novel twin fuselage design with twin large vertical tailfins and an extra-long main wing extending across the rear fuselage. It also has a small canard wing connecting the head sections of twin fuselages in order to maintain the structural integrity of the UAV. A SATCOM antenna is expected to be installed inside the head bulge on the port side. The UAV is thought to be powered by a medium-thrust turbofan engine without A/B (WS-12 without A/B) located above the main wing and between the two vertical tainfins. As an AEW platform Divine Eagle is expected to have multiple conformal radar antenna arrays installed along the forward fuselages as well as the leading edge of the forward canard wing. The VHF meter wave radar is capable of detecting stealth aircraft at a relatively long range but suffers from a lower accuracy. Therefore several Divine Eagles may fly aheadin a group formation while being controlled via datalink by the AWACS flying behind in a safe distance or by the ground station protected by the air defense unit. Together they act as an airborne multistatic radar system and are able to pick up the radar reflection signals of the same stealth aircraft from multiple directions. As the result the UAV can extend both the detecting range and accuracy of the AWACS against stealth aircraft. The design of Divine Eagle appear to share some similarity with the Russian Sukhoi S-62 concept which first appeared around 2000. It was reported that Russian assistance was sought during the initial development stage. A technology demonstrator (downsized?) was built by the spring 2015. Low speed taxi tests took place in May 2015. Some specifications (estimated): height 6m, length 14m, wingspan 35m, endurance >12hr, ceiling 18km. If successfully entering the service, Divine Eagle would become the first airborne anti-stealth radar system in the world and could be used to counter American F-22s, F-35s and B-2s. It was rumored that the UAV already made its first flight in October 2015. The latest image (July 2016) indicated that one Divine Eagle has been transferred to GAAC for further testing.
- Last Updated 7/12/16
The 001 prototype of Sharp Sword
UCAV is shown here taxiing at the Hongdu airfield. It was reported that
601 and Hongdu have been working on a long-range stealth UCAV similar
to American X-47B and Russian Skat. A scale model
was publicized in September 2011 revealing an X-47B style tailless
flying wing and a triangular dorsal air intake configuration, in an
effort to minimize RCS and reduce IR emission. The UCAV also features a
SATCOM datalink antenna located aft the dorsal air intake. As a UCAV, Sharp Sword
is expected to carry at least two 500kg GPS/Beidou guided bombs or LGBs
separately inside two internal bomb bay. Its wings appears foldable,
suggesting it could be deployed on an aircraft carrier, like X-47B. Its
length is around 10m and wingspan is around 14m, combat radius >1,000km. The first prototype was
built by the end of 2012. First high speed taxiing took place on
January 26, 2013, probably powered by an indigenous WS-13 turbofan without A/B. However the engine
nozzle appears to be unshielded which might increase its thermal signature.The Sharp Sword prototype took off for the first time on November 21, 2013 from the GAAC UAV Test Base. It was rumored in November 2015 that the improved 02 prototype might fly in 2016. Besides Sharp Sword, another UAV
flying wing design (WZ-3000?/CH-X?) was developed by NTU. This
high-altitude/long endurance UAV, which resembles American RQ-180, was
thought to have first flown in 2012. At least two prototypes were built. The latest rumor (May 2017) claimed that after 5 years of testing Sharp Sward is finally ready for production at Hongdu/GAAC and is planned to enter the service with PLAAF as a medium-range ground attack stealth UCAV.