Chinese UAV & UCAV development


kurutoga

Junior Member
Registered Member
Some old photos of CH-4 control system. CH-4 and WL-1 are comparable. CH-5 is about the same as WL-2. They look the same to me though

While CH series is made in Beijing, WL in SiChuan, the stealthy drone series (Cloud Dragon?) is only made in SiChuan so they may have a technical lead.

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Hendrik_2000

Brigadier
It is likely CH-5, not WL-2. CH series had many overseas customers especially Iraq and UAE.
WL-2 has winlets but it's impossible to tell from the picture.
Here is what Jane has to say on the subject

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The three UAVs seen at Qusahwirah on 22 October 2017 were almost certainly Wing Loong IIs.

Key Points
  • Satellite imagery indicates the UAE is the unnamed Wing Loong II customer
  • Three UAVs matching Wing Loong II dimensions were at Qusahwirah Air Base in October 2017
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) air force has almost certainly acquired the AVIC Wing Loong II medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Satellite imagery shows three UAVs matching the Wing Loong II’s dimensions at the UAE’s remote Qusahwirah Air Base near the border with Oman and Saudi Arabia on 22 October 2017.

According to AVIC, the strike-capable Wing Loong II has a length of 11 m and a wingspan of 20.5 m. The dimensions and capabilities of the platform compare closely with the US-built MQ-9 Reaper. The UAE does not possess the MQ-9, nor does Jane’s have knowledge of foreign MQ-9s operating from Qusahwirah, suggesting the UAVs visible in the imagery are Wing Loong IIs.

China’s Xinhua news agency reported on 28 February 2017 that AVIC had secured a major export order for the Wing Loong II from an unidentified country even before the aircraft had taken its first flight, which happened a day earlier.

The report gave no indication when the customer would receive its first UAVs, but AVIC announced earlier in January that intensive testing during the previous 10 months had shown that the system “has met user requirements and possesses full operational capability”. This involved simultaneously controlling two aircraft from the same ground station.

Never publicly acknowledged by the UAE, Qusahwirah Air Base has been a mystery since Google Earth released the first satellite imagery of the expanded facility.
 

kurutoga

Junior Member
Registered Member
Here is what Jane has to say on the subject

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Thanks. As I was trying to tell them apart, I found CH-5 and WL-2 are almost visually identical. Same shape, almost the exact same length and winspan. The only difference that I can find is WL-2 has winglet like those Boeing jets. Both are exported to the Middle East. So maybe Jane's know something else to tell them apart. It sounds like CH-5 is a dumbed down version. WL-2 requires a real pilot to operate (say, a retired jet pilot) and has more sophisticated sensors. According to some reports, WL-2 also have far more sophisticated weapons and even a hidden weapon bay.

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siegecrossbow

Brigadier
Staff member
Super Moderator
Thanks. As I was trying to tell them apart, I found CH-5 and WL-2 are almost visually identical. Same shape, almost the exact same length and winspan. The only difference that I can find is WL-2 has winglet like those Boeing jets. Both are exported to the Middle East. So maybe Jane's know something else to tell them apart. It sounds like CH-5 is a dumbed down version. WL-2 requires a real pilot to operate (say, a retired jet pilot) and has more sophisticated sensors. According to some reports, WL-2 also have far more sophisticated weapons and even a hidden weapon bay.

View attachment 45112
Why would it need an internal bay if it is not optimized for stealth (as far as we know)?
 

plawolf

Brigadier
Why would it need an internal bay if it is not optimized for stealth (as far as we know)?
Speed and endurance probably. Hanging munitions externally adds drag, which will reduce its speed and increase fuel consumption. When UCAV missions can last days, that extra fuel consumption could add up to a lot of extra fuel needs and/or reduced time on station.

With a small weapons bay, at most enough for a pair of small missiles, the drone sacrifices some fuel volume for savings in drag.

With such a capability, drones on pure recon missions could still take out that HVT they are hunting as soon as it is first spotted without needing to wait for vectored in manned fast jets or another strike equipped UCAV, as in operational experience, such HVTs are at most revealed for a very brief window and often have gone underground again (sometimes literally) by the time a strike assets gets on station.

This is most likely a customer ordered feature rather than one China would have designed in by default I think.
 

KlRc80

Junior Member
Registered Member
Thanks. As I was trying to tell them apart, I found CH-5 and WL-2 are almost visually identical. Same shape, almost the exact same length and winspan. The only difference that I can find is WL-2 has winglet like those Boeing jets. Both are exported to the Middle East. So maybe Jane's know something else to tell them apart. It sounds like CH-5 is a dumbed down version. WL-2 requires a real pilot to operate (say, a retired jet pilot) and has more sophisticated sensors. According to some reports, WL-2 also have far more sophisticated weapons and even a hidden weapon bay.
UAE.jpg

Its not obvious but if I have to wager, the shape of the wing seems to match WL 2 (non-fully straight wing edges) more than CH5(fully straight wing edges):

WL1.png

2017-03-01-Premier-vol-dessai-réussi-pour-le-drone-Wing-Loong-II-07-1200x580.jpg

The below is CH5 with fully straight wing edges;

DKs9W-gW0AAyan_.jpg
 

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