IndraStra Global Editorial Team
Image Attribute: Wing Loong II, Performing its Maiden Flight at an unidentified airport in northwestern China / Source: Aviation Industry Corp of China
On Feb 27, China completed the maiden flight of Wing-Loong II, the newly built multi-role medium-altitude, long endurance, Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) integrated with both deep reconnaissance and strike capabilities.
A prototype of the Wing Loong II conducted a 31- minute test flight from an unidentified airport in northwestern China, a news release by the state- owned Aviation Industry Corp of China said.
The platform is an upgraded variant of the Wing Loong UAV (Pterodactyl-I) first introduced into service with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force in 2008 and developed by Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute (CADI) of the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China.
An export version of the drone has been sold to a number of international customers including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan.
In September 2016, Arab News reported that Saudi Arabia ordered an undisclosed number of Wing-Loong UAVs.
Also, on June 18, 2016, a Wing Loong UAV crashed in Pakistan, near the city of Mianwali which was on an "experimental flight" and has the appearance of a Chinese Wing-Loong unmanned combat aerial vehicle, thereby indicating that the drone was being evaluated.
Image Attribute: Static Display of Wing Loong II UAV was first publicly revealed at the Airshow China 2016 in November 2016
The new upgraded version 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 and can stay airborne for 20 hours, China Daily’s report said. The larger-sized Wing Loong II is able of carrying up to 12 laser-guided bombs or missiles with a total weight of 480 kilograms. By contrast, Wing Loong I can carry only two bombs or missiles with a combined weight of 100 kg.
Image Attribute: Static Display of Wing Loong II UAV's laser-guided bombs or missiles at the Airshow China 2016 in November 2016
With various system integration packages, the manufacturers claim it to perform various roles like GEOINT collection, ELINT - electronic surveillance, SAR - search and rescue missions, for the military as well as civilian purposes. However, it has to compete closely with the domestic counterpart's - China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) Rainbow-series, namely the CH-4B drones.