Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV)
The CASIC WJ-600 Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle is another in the growing line of jet-powered Chinese-originated attack drones.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
The CASIC WJ-600 is a large-scale Unmanned Aerial Vehicle ("UAV", though more commonly referred to as a "drone") currently under development in China under the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation label (CASIC). As it stands, the WJ-600 will be a maritime and overland attack UAV designed as a standalone weapons platform or for operations in conjunction with the People's Liberation Army (PLA). As such, the WJ-600 will be outfitted with the latest in Chinese optics and sensor technology as well as support existing tracking and engagement systems coupled to various ordnance options (primarily missiles though bombs are reportedly supported as well). The WJ-600 was first unveiled in 2010 during the China Airshow.
The WJ-600 follows conventional design wisdom in its general layout. There exists a long-running centralized cylindrical fuselage which houses all applicable in-flight systems including avionics, fuel stores, mission equipment and the engine. Like other high-level UAVs, the WJ-600 features the noticeable bulbous nose assembly required for housing critical mission components. The single turbojet engine fitted in the aft section of the fuselage. The powerplant is aspirated by a top-mounted air intake clearly identifiable over the aft portion of the fuselage spine. The main wing assemblies are fitted just aft of amidships as straight, high-mounted appendages. Each wing is granted a single hardpoint for the external carrying of munitions. The empennage of the aircraft will sport a single vertical tail fin and a pair of horizontal planes. The engine exhausts just under the vertical tail fin. There appears to be no undercarriage as part of the finalized WJ-600 system. Instead, the aircraft will launched via an underslung rocket pack under the tail and be retrieved via a self-actuated parachute system, the fuselage coming to rest with the support of inflatables (based on published imagery).
Internally, the WJ-600 is said to house an electronic synthetic aperture radar system as well as an electronic surveillance suite enabling it to function at different altitudes in day or night hours and in all weather environments. The payload threshold will reach 600 kilograms for a base armed surveillance mission sortie and special mission packages will enable it to undertake active reconnaissance, target simulation, electronics warfare and communications sorties as required. Each wing will support a single hardpoint for a missile or similar ordnance - guided/homing anti-tank, drop bombs, etc... The powerplant will provide an estimated maximum speed of 720 kilometers per hour with a service altitude of approximately 10,000 meters with an operational range out to 2,100 kilometers.