Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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China's Wing Loong II Aerial Drone Built to Rival US MQ-9 Reaper Passes First Test Flight

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(Photo : CADI) Wing Loong II UCAV with its weapons.

The CAIG Wing Loong II, a new aerial drone capable of both reconnaissance and strike missions developed and built in China, successfully completed its maiden flight on Feb. 27.

Wing Loong II No. 01 conducted the 31 minute-long test flight at an unidentified airbase of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) in western China. It's also known in the West as the Chengdu Pterodactyl I.

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"Its flight marks China's new generation reconnaissance and strike UAS (unmanned aerial system)," said Li Yidong, chief designer of the Wing Loong UAS series.

"Following the United States, China becomes another country capable of developing such new generation large reconnaissance and strike UAS."

Li said the successful test showed that China had the capability to deliver new generation reconnaissance and strike UAS products to foreign military customers.

The Wing Loong series was developed by Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute (CADI), a unit of state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). They are manufactured by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG).

Wing Loong II is a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE), multi-role UAS integrated with both reconnaissance and strike capabilities.

"It can rapidly identify then strike against time-critical and fleeting targets. The capability is not possessed by previous unmanned aircraft, even manned aircraft," said Li.

"Taking a look at the UAS in same class around the world, the Wing Loong II is equivalent to the U.S. MQ-9 Reaper, and ranks in the first level on the UAS list."

China is banking on its Wing Loong series to improve its standing in the civilian and military markets for aerial drones.

CADI claims its Wing Loong has earned a great reputation and market share around the world by virtue of its leading edge technologies and reliable performance. It said the prestige of Wing Loong has set the stage for China to tap into the global military drone market.

In it military guise, Wing Loong is a cost-effective, easy-to-operate, multi-purpose and long-endurance hunter-reconnaissance UAS.

Wing Loong is intended for use as a surveillance and aerial reconnaissance platform and as an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) fitted with air-to-surface weapons.

It can carry Chinese-made BA-7 air-to-ground missiles; YZ-212 laser-guided cluster bombs; YZ-102A cluster bombs and 50 kg LS-6 miniature guided bombs. Among the UCAV's operators are China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Nigeria and Uzbekistan.

The Wing Loong UAS series exported worldwide consists of the Wing Loong I, Wing Loong ID and Wing Loong II. These vehicles made the public debut at the 2016 Zhuhai Airshow that opened Nov. 1.

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