The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) market continues to grow and, for larger aero-industries like that of China, this means untapped potential in the lucrative export market. As a result, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) has unveiled the "Cloud Shadow" UAV/UCAV during the 11th Zhuhai Air Show in November of 2016. The aircraft is a development of Chengdu Aerospace Corporation (CAC) which falls under the AVIC parent label.
The product on display showcases a very sleek, stealth-like appearance akin to the General Atomics Avenger Unmanned Air Combat Vehicle (UCAV) offering. The bulbous nose assembly is well-streamlined and tapers to the rear to which an air scoop is set over the dorsal line. The scoop is straddled by outward-canted vertical fins. The wing mainplanes are swept back and featured along midships of the fuselage. The undercarriage is wheeled and completely retractable to preserve aerodynamic efficiency.
As its core, the Cloud Shadow represents a Chinese attempt at a budget-friendly High-Altitude, Long Endurance (HALE) unmanned aircraft that is weapons capable. Two distinct versions have been mentioned - the standard unarmed reconnaissance model and an armed reconnaissance model. Weapons are held externally along four underwing hardpoints (two to a wing). Munitions supported will include a variety of Chinese precision weapons including both missiles and drop bombs. The listed mission payload is 880 lb.
Performance specifications include a maximum speed of 385 miles per hour, a service ceiling of at least 46,000 feet and a Line-of-Sight (LoS) link range out to 180 miles. The aircraft's mission endurance window is set for six hours. The jet engine is most likely the WJ-600 series or similar.
There are three planned production forms for the Cloud Shadow UAV family. The Cloud Shadow CS-1 is the base imagery reconnaissance model and this is to be followed by the CS-2 which fulfills the electronic reconnaissance role. The CS-3 is set to be a fully-armed reconnaissance strike model. All will carry the WP-11C series turbojet engine for propulsion.
November 2017 - A mock-up of the Cloud Shadow UAV was put on display during the Dubai Air Show.
(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.
✓Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
✓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.
5,071 lb (2,300 kg)
7,055 lb (3,200 kg)
+1,984 lb (+900 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base AVIC Cloud Shadow production variant)
Estimated: 1 x WP-11C turbojet engine of unknown rating / output.
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