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Analysis: Chinese Wing Loong family of UAS in international drone defense market



As one of the most popular products in the international drone defense and security markets, China's Wing Loong family of UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) has been exported to more than a dozen countries in recent years, with customers in China, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Algeria. The sales of the Chinese UAV are still increasing year by year, with a well-deserved reputation all over the world.


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Wing Loong 1 MALE UAS Unmanned Aerial System at China AirShow in Zhuhai, China. (Picture source Army Recognition)


Currently, many defense departments of different countries have requested China to purchase drones, which demonstrates their recognition of Chinese drones. This will be an indirect encouragement for China's aviation field. As the drone exports continue to grow, the footsteps of China's Wing Loong entering the international aviation field will become more and more stable.

Another reason why Wing Loong has become China's best-selling armament is the cost-effectiveness. The operational performance of this drone has been widely recognized by many countries, and the high cost-performance constitutes another advantage of these drones.

The Wing Loong is available in two variants, the Chengdu Pterodactyl I, also known as Wing Loong I and the Wing Loong II. The Wing Loong I is a Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), developed by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group in the People's Republic of China. The Wing Loong 1 was unveiled to the public in November 2010, during the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition that was held in Zhuhai.

The development of the Wing Loong I UAS started 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.

The Wing Loong I UAS is a lightweight turboprop propelled plane, powered by a 100 horsepower turbocharged engine, driving a three-bladed propeller, mounted at the rear of the fuselage. It has a fuselage structure of 9m length with mid-mounted wings. At the rear of the fuselage, it features two vertical tail fins, arranged in a V shape.

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

The Wing Loong I can fly at a maximum speed of 280 km/h, can operate over a range of 4,000 km, and fly up to a maximum height of approximately 5 km. It can perform missions for more than 20 hours and can transmit data over a line of sight (LOS) range of 200 km.

The Wing Loong I can be also armed with different types of weapons including laser-guided bombs, anti-tank missiles, and guided rockets to attack and destroy air or ground-based targets.


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Wing Loong 2 MALE UAS Unmanned Aerial System at China AirShow in Zhuhai, China. (Picture source Army Recognition)


The Wing Long II is the second generation of UAS in the Wing Loong family. The Wing Loong II is an improved version of the Wing Loong 1 UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) in the category of MALE (Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance) designed and manufactured in China by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). The Company unveiled the concept of Wing Loong II at the Aviation Expo China in Beijing in September 2015 and a prototype of the Wing Loong II was presented for the first time to the public during the Airshow China exhibition, held in Zhuhai from 1-6 November 2016.

The design of the Wing Loong II UAV MALE is based to the Wing Loong I But it is longer and higher. It has monoplane slender fuselage and empennage with a prominent V-tail and ventral fin. The landing gear consists of two main wheels under the fuselage and one single wheel under the nose facilitates safe take-off and landing.

The Wing Loong II UAV MALE is powered by a turbocharged engine, driving a three-bladed propeller, mounted at the rear section. It can fly during 20 hours and has a maximum speed of 370 km per hour.

The Wing Loong II UAV MALE has a maximum payload capacity of 400 kg. It is able of carrying up to 12 laser-guided bombs or missiles with a total weight of 480 kilograms. The Wing Loong 1 can carry only two bombs or missiles with a combined weight of 100 kg.


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