Chinese military industry is developing a producing a myriad of products for its massive land, sea, and air forces and this has included a large collection of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The drive in this section in multi-fold - attempting to keep pace with the United States, showcasing its technological prowess to its neighbors, and promoting a position of self-reliance in various fields. As a long time export customer of the Soviet Union, the Chinese now take in-house products from the design stage through the development phase and can handle production locally. The reliance on outside help has become, over the decades, largely about more complex individual systems such as engines.
NORINCO of China - primarily recognized for its small arms and armored vehicle manufacturing - is heading a new Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) under the "Sky Saker". The UAV no doubt is influenced by the successful General Atomics MQ-9 "Reaper" line of the United States, the Reaper itself born from the unarmed Predator. Indeed, the NORINCO product certainly showcases many of the design elements of its American counterpart including the bulbous nose section, straight wing mainplanes, rear-mounted propulsion system (in a "pusher" arrangement), wholly retractable undercarriage, and outward-canted vertical tail fins. As a UCAV-class system, the Sky Saker is being developed with an ordnance-carrying capability in mind from the outset, the stores to be mounted along underwing hardpoints in the usual way. As it stands, the Sky Saker will support the carrying and launching of air-to-surface missiles as well as precision-guided drop bombs.
The Sky Saker is based on the earlier Wing Loong UAV detailed elsewhere on this site. It is intended for the export market.
Beyond the promoted attack capability will be the now-standard ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) quality consistent with many modern UAVs/UCAVs. This air vehicle will be able to take on this role alongside its attack role making it a true battlefield "hunter-killer".
Due to the early design and development stages of the NORINCO Sky Saker, this article will be updated as new information allows. Our presented performance and dimension numbers are purely estimates.