Like other military powers of the world, China has whole-heartedly embraced the concept of the UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) in modern warfare. As such, many in-house initiatives have been set into motion to produce the first generation of viable Chinese military UAV systems for reconnaissance, tracking and engagement of targets. The Guizhou "Soar Eagle" (also known as the "Soar Dragon") is a step in this direction, utilizing a full-scale body and advanced planform with turbojet engine propulsion. The Soar Eagle is currently in development as of this writing (2012) with a few select images having been leaked to the public (as is the Chinese government's modus operandi in such matters). The Soar Eagle is intended for service in the People's Liberation Army Air force (PLAAF) and will be initially used in the reconnaissance role with weapons support possibly added later in its developmental life.
From available imagery, the Soar Eagle bears a distinct resemblance to the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk long-range, high-altitude UAV system of the United States Air Force. There are, however, several distinct design features which make the Soar Eagle a wholly unique Chinese design including its single vertical tail fin and joined tandem wing configuration. The Soar Eagle does share the Global Hawk's general appearance with its bulbous forward fuselage, rear-set engine installation and a fuselage spine-mounted air inlet. The Soar Eagle, like the Global hawk, is dimensionally large when compared to medium-class UAV systems - roughly the size of a small manned aircraft - and showcases a wingspan of over 81 feet with a height of nearly 18 feet and running length of 47 feet. As such, the aircraft holds the physical capabilities for long-range, high-altitude service and is therefore being categorized as a "High-Altitude Long Endurance" (HALE) UAV.
Power for the Soar Eagle is served through the Guizhou WP-13 turbojet engine installed in the aft portion of the streamlined fuselage and outputting at approximately 9,700lbs thrust. The WP-13 is an evolved Chinese derivative of the Soviet-era Tumansky R-13 series which saw principle use in the Soviet Sukhoi Su-15 "Flagon" and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 "Fishbed" interceptors of the Cold War. Performance specifications are said to include a cruise speed of over 460 miles per hour, a service ceiling of nearly 60,000 feet and a mission endurance window of some 10 hours.
While not a true stealth aircraft, the Soar Dragon appears to sport some accepted stealth features such as its outward canted V-tail arrangement, chined fuselage body, and "S-duct" work used to aspirate the turbojet engine within.
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(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
Equipped to search, track, and engage enemy surface elements through visual acquisition, radar support, and onboard weaponry.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
Aircraft inherently designed (or later developed) with an unmanned capability to cover a variety of over-battlefield roles.
47.0 ft (14.33 m)
81.6 ft (24.86 m)
17.7 ft (5.41 m)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Chengdu Soar Dragon production variant)
1 x Guizhou WP-13 (Tumansky R-13) turbojet engine developing 9,700 lb thrust OR 1 x AE3007H turbojet engine of 7,000 lb thrust.
(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the Chengdu Soar Dragon production variant. Performance specifications showcased above are subject to environmental factors as well as aircraft configuration. Estimates are made when Real Data not available. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)
Initially none, limited to reconnaissance sorties. Later development will possibly incorporate support for anti-ship missile and cruise missile support for ranged precision attack.
(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 2
"Soar Dragon" - Base Series Name.
"Soar Eagle" - Alternative Name.
WZ-7 - Chinese military designation.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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Image from Chinese state media release.
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