Warplanes: Wing Loong 2 Moves Out


March 16, 2017: In February the Chinese Wing Loong 2 UAV successfully made its first flight. After that China announced that they already had orders for Wing Loong 2. The original Wing Loong 1 (that's Chinese for Pterodactyl, a Jurassic period flying dinosaur) UAV can be equipped to carry two BA-7 laser guided missiles (similar to the Hellfire) or two 60 kg (110 pound) GPS guided bombs (similar to the U.S. SDB).

Wing Loong 1 has been around for a while. In 2008 Chinese aircraft manufacturer (AVIC) began showing off photos and videos of a prototype for a clone of the American MQ-1 Predator UAV that tuned out to be Wing Loong. In 2012 one was first seen in flight, over the capital of Uzbekistan, which, along with UAE (United Arab Emirates) were the first export customers. It was later revealed that development on Wing Loong began in 2005, first flight was in 2007 and Chinese troops got the first ones in 2008 for further testing.

While Wing Loong is similar in shape to the larger American MQ-9 Reaper, in size it's almost identical to the 1.2 ton Predator. Wing Loong weighs 1.1 tons, has a 14 meter (46 feet) wingspan, and is 9 meters (28 feet) long. It has max altitude of 5,300 meters (16,400 feet), max speed of 270 kilometers an hour and an endurance of over 20 hours. Payload is 200 kg.

Wing Loong 2 specs have not been released yet but it appears to be larger, with a wingspan of 20.5 meters (66 feet), top speed of 370 kilometers an hour and can carry 480 kg (1,956 pounds) of weapons including up to 12 BA-7 missiles. Endurance is still 20 hours and comes equipped with satellite link. Wing Loong 2 has an improved aerodynamic, sturdier airframe and improved flight control software. It appears that Wing Loong 2 is closer in size and performance to the American MQ-9.

For several decades a growing number of Chinese commercial firms have been developing military UAVs and dual use commercial UAVs. Unlike most Western nations, China will sell military UAVs to anyone who can pay and is not bothered about the use of bribes and other illegal (in the West) payments. In other words, Wing Loong is priced to move.