China's high-end UAS soars over global competition

Updated 2017-04-19 14:00:57 Xinhua
Photo taken on April 17, 2017 shows the cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1 being transferred with a Long March-7 Y2 carrier rocket from the testing center to the launch zone in Wenchang, south China's Hainan Province.

Photo taken on April 17, 2017 shows the cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1 being transferred with a Long March-7 Y2 carrier rocket from the testing center to the launch zone in Wenchang, south China's Hainan Province.

Chinese high-end large and medium-sized unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are gaining a reputation at home and abroad with products such as the Wing-Loong series.

Even before its maiden flight on Feb. 27, the China-developed Wing-Loong II was subject to the country's largest ever UAS order, due to its integrated reconnaissance and strike capabilities.

Its capabilities were developed with the self-reliance and innovation of China's aviation industry, which is taking off after mastering core technologies, says chief designer Li Yidong.

The Wing-Loong series grabbed global attention with a range of models at the 2016 China Airshow.

The cross-generational Wing-Loong II had a successful maiden flight in the spring in 2017 with a model tailored to the requirements of a customer who lodged the order beforehand.

PIONEER IN WARTIME, ENGINEER IN PEACETIME

Wing-Loong II's successful maiden flight marks China's new generation reconnaissance and strike UAS. Following the United States, China becomes another country capable of developing such new generation large reconnaissance and strike UAS.

The Wing-Loong UAS series were developed by Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute (CADI) of the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China.

"The Wing-Loong series has a reputation as a 'pioneer in wartime, an engineer in peacetime and versatile everywhere'," says Li, who is also deputy chief designer of CADI.

"Previous models had launched thousands of rounds of various weapons with an accuracy rate over 90 percent," says Li.

The Wing-Loong UAS had endured harsh and adverse conditions, such as scorching deserts, highland gales, high altitude take-offs and landings, as well as mountainous terrain and maritime environments.

They have been equipped by multiple users both domestically and abroad, and have operated in diverse missions, such as counter-terrorism, border patrol and intelligence gathering operations.

One formation of three Wing-Loong I unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) conducted a containment and control mission in a war zone around the clock for seven consecutive days.

"Practical combat experience like this is imperative for modifying and developing Chinese UAS equipment, including Wing-Loong and other types of UAS," says Li.

It also builds a reputation in a competitive global market.

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