Guizhou WZ-2000 (WuZhen-2000 / WZ-9) Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV)
The Guizhou WZ-2000 UCAV out of China is a multi-role, armed drone platform.
Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
It is only natural that the unarmed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) of today become the armed Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles (UCAV) of tomorrow. The Guizhou concern of China has developed the latter with its WZ-2000 turbofan-powered model UCAV intended as a high-speed, dedicated attack UAV with surveillance capabilities built in. Development of the aircraft began during 1999 and several mocked up forms followed at the turn of the century, leading to the finalized product of 2002. The WZ-2000 adds a whole new dimension to Chinese air attack capability, a capability currently only seen in first-rate world air forces. Additionally, it threatens the export market on UCAVs currently controlled by a select few - should China choose to offer its UCAV to its multitude of military customers, thusly reducing reliance on nations like the United States and Israel.
At various points during its lengthy development period, the WZ-2000 was known as the "WZ-9" and the "WuZhen-2000". It is commonly accepted that "WZ-2000" stands as its finalized product designation. First flight of a prototype was recorded on December 26th, 2003.
The WZ-2000 features a running length of 7.5 meters with a wingspan of 9.8 meters. Its listed Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) is 3,750lbs while displaying a 175lb payload capacity for stores and mission equipment. Power is from a single WS-11 turbofan engine (essentially the Russian Ivchenko AI-25 series) developing in the range of 3,800lbs thrust and propelling the airframe at speeds of near-500 miles per hour. Its stated range is 1,500 miles with a combat radius of about 500 miles. Operating ceilings can reach up to 59,000 feet while mission endurance is limited, primarily by the thirsty turbofan engine, at just three hours. It is assumed that the aircraft is crewed by a pair of operators from a Ground Control Station (GCS).
As a UCAV, the WZ-2000 supports the carrying of both air-to-surface missiles as well as precision-guided munitions to suit mission requirements.