China air drones match any paradigm

Updated: 2016-11-07

The domestically made unmanned Cloud-Shadow, CH-5 and Wing-loong II UAV models stole the show at the 11th China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition, which closed on Nov 6. 

Cloud-Shadow overshadows rivals

Cloud-Shadow, a jet-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that was newly revealed at the show, was developed by Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). The high-altitude and long-endurance drone can be used for military air strikes and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.

The Cloud-Shadow has widely been viewed as the Chinese version of the "Global Hawk" -- an unmanned spy drone from the United States. However, according to chief designer He Min, the AVIC craft's performance both in velocity and reconnaissance distance is far better than other drones of a similar type worldwide.

The drone has a maximum payload of 400 kg and can fly with six weapons (there are four mount points under its wings.) According to Shephard Media, AVIC is offering the option of a standard line-of-sight radio connectivity suite with the UAV, which offers a range of 290 km.

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Cloud-Shadow UAV

CH-5 challenges MQ-9

The CH-5 combat UAV was developed by China Aerospace Science & Technology Corporation (CASTC) and was officially released and opened for purchase at the show. The CH-5 has a maximum take-off weight of 3,000 kg, can stay in the air for 60 hours, and operates at a maximum altitude of 10 km.

Shi Wen, chief designer of the Caihong or Rainbow (CH) series of drones, compared the latest type with the US General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, a hunter-killer drone often deemed by Western analysts to be the best in its class.

"The CH-5 can perform whatever operations the MQ-9 Reaper can and is even better than the US drone when it comes to flight duration and operational efficiency," Shi says.

The Caihong drone series began to be developed in 1999 and is now the most complete type-spectrum of China’s UAVs with the largest export volume.

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CH-5 UAV

Wing-loong II UAS

The Wing-loong II, which was developed by Aviation Industry Corp of China's Chengdu Aircraft Design & Research Institute in Sichuan province, is a medium-altitude, long-endurance, multi-role drone capable of performing surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as air-to-ground strike operations.

Li Yidong, chief designer of the Wing-loong series, said the military drone features inner missile modules and is able of carrying mission payloads such as CCD camera and communication reconnaissance equipment. It has a maximum payload of 200 kg.

The craft's new engine has already received an order from abroad, which Li says is a record contract by value in China's military drone sector.

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Wing-loong II UAV [Photos by Zhong Fan / Zhuhai Daily]  

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