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One of the most surprising exhibits at this year’s Paris Air Show, is AVIC’s armed WING LOONG II unmanned aerical vehicle (UAV). Surrounded by a large cache of weapons, it gives the air of being a big bomb truck and with a maximum take off weight (MTOW) of 4.2t that’s exactly what it is. The weapons on display have either been integrated or are on the verge of being integrated.

Its MTOW is nearly four times that of the smaller Wing Loong I which has a restriction of 1.2 tonnes. Both were exhibited publicly for the first time at Zhuhai’s China Airshow in November 2016. It is only the second time the combat drone has been seen outside China, after it was exhibited at the Mexican Aerospace Show in late April. “We were surprised by the response, and decided we should bring it here,” a source told MONS.  “We are trying to cover all potential customer’s requirements for the WING LOONG II and their budgets.”

It is on display at Paris Air Show because the chinese company is trying to attract more customers, which if they wish can bring their own choice of payload, western ones if required. There are 10 weapons on display, ranging from the more basic 50kg Blue Arrow (BA) right up to the radar-guided YJ-9E anti-shipping missile, which will be integrated soon.

The UAV’s weapon of choice is the BA-7 that according to the author’s sources has been a deadly combination in action with WING LOONG I in Yemen. It can be lased onto the target by the EO/IR turret courtesy of its in-built laser designator.

Another highlight is the low-cost laser guided TL-2 missile, which can be mounted on the UAV’s triple launcher racks on display. “Sometimes you don’t need the bigger more expensive 50ib weapons, to hit the smaller mobile targets which is when the TL-2 can come in handy,” the source said. Integration of the missile is expected to be completed later this year.

Another impressive addition is the TV guided 50kg CM-502 which can provide customers a new option. The medium sized 50kg laser guided AG-300/M (medium size), is also set to be integrated. "It will have the ability to alter its flight trajectory while in flight,” it was diclosed.  

There are two LS-6 bombs on display, 50kg and 100kg versions, which adds even further options.

While the WING LOONG II on display has only four pylons under the wings, the real aircraft can be fitted with six, as was seen at Zhuhai Airshow, and has the capability to carry over 1,000Ibs of payload. It is no wonder that many countries, particularly those in the Middle-East are turning to China to fill its operational requirements.

Inside the front of its fuselage is a synthetic aperture radar (SAR), which can data-link imagery to the ground station. There are plans to add an electronic warfare capability, when the requirement is needed, however right now, most customers are concentrating their finances on the air to ground role.

“Many will start flying the WING LOONG II with the most basic of weapons and as they increase their training and confidence, we can upgrade their weaponry for their more sophisticated operational requirements,” a source told MONS.

The PLAAF is already operating its own version of WING LOONG I and II for domestic use, with the system now very mature. Meanwhile both WING LOONG versions will attend Dubai Air Show in November.

Alan Warnes

 

The large WING LOONG II combat UAV is making only its second international appearance. Its first was in Mexico during late April. (Photos: DPM)

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