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.
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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.
June 2017 - The Wing-Loong II was showcased at the Paris Air Show 2017.
October 2018 - Pakistan has committed to the purchase of a fleet of Wing Loong II series attack UAVs from China.
November 2018 - The Wing-Loong II was displayed for the first time at the Zhuhai static park complete with PLAAF colors and the designation of "GJ-2".
September 2019 - Serbia has been confirmed as a customer of the Wing-Loong uAV.
February 2020 - The Wing Loong 2 has been operationally used over Libya by the Libyan National Army.
Status Active, In-Service
[ 250 Units ] : Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group / Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) - China
China; Egypt; Indonesia; Kazakhstan; Libya (Libyan National Army); Nigeria; Pakistan; Saudi Arabia; Serbia; United Arab Emirates; Uzbekistan
(Showcased structural dimension values pertain to the Chengdu Wing-Loong I production model)
2,425 lb (1,100 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Chengdu Wing-Loong I production model)
1 x Conventionally-powered engine driving a three-bladed propeller in pusher configuration at rear of fuselage.
(Showcased powerplant information pertains to the Chengdu Wing-Loong I production model)
174 mph (280 kph; 151 kts)
16,404 feet (5,000 m; 3.11 miles)
3,107 miles (5,000 km; 2,700 nm)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Chengdu Wing-Loong I production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
Typically sensor equipment but also up to 220lb of externally-held air-to-surface missiles or precision-guided drop munitions held across six total underwing hardpoints (three to a wing).
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Chengdu Wing-Loong I production model)
Wing-Loong - Base Series Designation
Pterosaur I - Original flying model of 2005
Wing-Loong I - Alternative name; first-flight in 2009; single underwing hardpoint.
Wing-Loong II - Improved, upgraded model with increased support for underwing munitions; 36-foot wingspan; 9,300lb weight; 1,058lb payload; six underwing hardpoints; winglets added to latest versions.
WJ-1 - Land-attack model; sans chin blister; debuted November 2014.
GJ-1 - PLAAF service designation; land-attack model; improved capability including self-designation of targets; underwing weapons support and chin blister housing optics set.
GJ-2 - New military designation unveiled on a static Wing-Loong II display at Zhuhai Air Show 2018; showcased in PLAAF colors.
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