Chengdu (AVIC) Wing-Loong I (Pterodactyl) Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
The Chengdu Wing Loong UAV drone serves double-duty for several global customers beyond China as it can be modified to undertake various over-battlefield roles including attack.
Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The Chengdu Pterodactyl I (also known as the Wing-Loong I) was unveiled by company representatives during the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition (Zhuhai) in 2010. The system is a "Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance" (MALE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with provision having been developed to convert the type into an Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) by supporting various precision munition options. A first-flight is believed to have occurred during 2009 and flight testing into 2013. At least one prototype was lost during development.
Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAC) holds a decades-long history concerning modern Chinese aviation, having begun operations as a manufacturer of Soviet-originated jet aircraft during the Cold War during a time when a close relationship between the two Asian powers ruled. Since then, the concern has evolved to designing, developing and producing largely indigenous products for use by the Chinese military and allies (the latter only when export is approved). The Pterodactyl UAV is one such creation, approved for export and, to date, having been evaluated (though not selected) by Pakistan for its MALE UAV requirement.
Externally, the Pterodactyl showcases an appearance not unlike the American "Predator" UAV series, complete with its bulbous nose housing, streamlined fuselage, wheeled undercarriage and outward cranked vertical tail fins. The main wing assemblies are also straight appendages and can hold underwing stores (it is envisioned that the system will make use of up to four underwing guided bombs or missiles). A blister, held under the nose, contains traversing optics. The undercarriage is wheeled for easier management of the system by ground personnel and is fully-retractable into the body of the vehicle when in flight - all of the legs retract rearwards to promote strong aerodynamic qualities. Power is served through a rear-mounted conventional engine driving a three-bladed propeller assembly in a "pusher" configuration.
Internally, the Pterodactyl is being testing with various equipment packages. The aircraft is suspected to carry a synthetic aperture radar system as well as FLIR (Forward-Looking Infra-Red). The total listed payload of the Pterodactyl series is expected to be in the vicinity of 220lbs on production-quality models. Listed specifications include a 175 mile per hour maximum speed, 2,500 mile operational range (with 20 hour mission endurance time reported) and an operating service ceiling of 16,400 feet.
The Wing-Loong II is a modified, upgraded model with greater support for munitions-carrying - up to twelve-air-to-surface missiles are promoted at underwing hadpoints. It sports a 9,300lb weight and 36-foot wingspan.
February 2017 - The advanced Wing-Loong II made its first-flight on February 27th, 2017. The flight lasted 31 minutes.