Wing Loong Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), China

Wing Loong Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

Wing Loong (Yilong / Pterodactyl) is a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE), unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by Chengdu Aircraft Design & Research Institute (CADI), a division of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).

The UAV is developed primarily for the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and is intended for surveillance and aerial reconnaissance missions.

Fitted with a variety of weapons, the drone has the ability to perform combat operations and can also be used for civil tasks such as disaster assessment, meteorological operations, and environmental protection.

Wing Loong II, an upgraded version of the Wing Loong, was unveiled at the Beijing Aviation Expo held in September 2015.

Unmanned aerial vehicle development

Development of the unmanned aerial vehicle began in 2005 and the first test flight was conducted in 2009. A prototype of the Wing Loong I was exhibited during the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition held in Zhuhai in 2010.

Wing Loong UAV design and features

The Wing Loong UAV's fixed mid-mounted wings with high aspect ratio provide improved performance by reducing the drag. Its fuselage structure is designed to minimise the radar cross section. It features two vertical tail fins, arranged in a V shape.

The tri-cycle landing gear, with two main wheels under the fuselage and one single wheel under the nose, facilitates safe take-off and landing.

The UAV has a length of 9.05m, a wing span of 14m and a height of 2.77m. It has a maximum take-off weight of 1,100kg and can carry loads of 200kg on external stores.

The base version has two hardpoints under the wings, while the Wing Loong II has six hardpoints.

A satellite communications antenna, mounted on the bulge at the top front surface of the fuselage, facilitates data transmission between the UAV and the ground control station.

Armament carried on Wing Loong

The unmanned combat aerial vehicle can be armed with a variety of weapons including laser-guided bombs and missiles to attack and destroy air or ground-based targets.

The weaponry options include AKD-10 air-to-surface anti-tank missile, BRMI-90 90mm guided rocket, FT-7/130 small 130kg bomb with planar wing, FT-9/50 50kg bomb for drones, FT-10/25 25kg bomb, GB-7/50 50kg precision-guided munition (PGM), and GB-4/100 PGM.

Electro-optical payload pods

The electro-optical payload pod, fitted under the forward section of the fuselage, is integrated with day light and infrared cameras and sensors to collect surveillance and targeting data in both day and low-light / night conditions.

" … The drone has the ability to perform combat operations and … civil tasks such as disaster assessment, meteorological operations, and environmental protection."

The UAV is also equipped with synthetic aperture radar, laser designator, forward-looking infrared (FLIR) camera, as well as electronic countermeasures.

Mobile ground control station

The Wing Loong UAV and its payloads are remotely controlled by operator from the mobile ground control station using the consoles.

The control station receives payload information from the UAV via a data communications link and sends back command and control, as well as mission planning data to the air vehicle.

Combat drone propulsion

The combat drone is powered by a 100hp turbocharged engine, driving a three-bladed propeller, mounted at the rear section.

Performance of Wing Loong UAV

The Wing Loong has a maximum flight speed of 280km/h, can operate over a range of 4,000km, and fly up to a maximum height of approximately 5km.

It can perform missions for more than 20 hours and can transmit data over a line of sight (LOS) range of 200km. Its take-off and landing roll distances are 600m and 800m respectively.

The Global Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) Market 2011-2021

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