China's latest WZ-7 recon drone deployed for combat training ahead of PLA Air Force's 72nd anniversary
Published: Nov 10, 2021 10:51 PM
WZ-7 high-altitude reconnaissance drone Photo: CCTV News WeChat account

WZ-7 high-altitude reconnaissance drone Photo: CCTV News WeChat account

As an important piece of equipment in the arsenal of the PLA Air Force's unmanned combat system, the domestically developed WZ-7 high-altitude reconnaissance drone has caught much attention since it made its debut at the Airshow China this year. The drone has been deployed for full combat training, the PLA Air Force announced on Wednesday, the eve of its 72nd anniversary.

In a recent exercise featuring multiple types of aircraft, the WZ-7 took off as ordered demonstrating its full advantages of high-altitude and long-endurance. The aircraft quickly planned reconnaissance positions, set reconnaissance courses and captured target tracks based on dynamic battlefield situations, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Wednesday.

The WZ-7 proceeded to upload all kinds of data to the command center, providing strong support for the airborne aircraft group waiting to carry out penetration and assault tasks, CCTV's report said. 

As a new type of unmanned combat equipment, the WZ-7 has been deeply integrated into the PLA Air Force's real combat-scenario training system, fully demonstrating that the PLA Air Force has made significant progress in applying advanced combat means and showing the acceleration in the improvement of combat capabilities of the system.

During the opening ceremony of this year's Airshow China on September 28, the drone attracted attention worldwide.

The WZ-7 uses the "Φ type" tandem-wing aerodynamic configuration, the first time in the world that such design has been used in an aircraft. It has been tested in all kinds of environments and its reliability has been proven. It is "the second drone that can freely cross civil aviation routes," the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China, the aircraft's manufacturer said in a statement sent to the Global Times at the Airshow China 2021. 

Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, previously told the Global Times that "free crossing of civil aviation routes means that the drone's flight duration and range are as long as those of civilian aircrafts. Normally, a civilian airliner can fly over 12 hours with an autonomy of 10,000 kilometers. The WZ-7 has the same flight autonomy and conduct inter-continental flights."

The first drone with such capability in the world was the US-made Global Hawk, which has a range of over 10,000 kilometers, Song said.

In recent years, a large number of new domestically developed main combat equipment, including the J-20 stealth fighter, the Y-20 large cargo plane, the KJ-500 early warning aircraft and the HQ-9B air defense missile system, have been deployed for practical combat training. The PLA Air Force's capabilities on strategic early warning, air strike, air defense and missile defense, information countermeasures, airborne operations, strategic projection and comprehensive support have been continuously enhanced.

After 72 years of continuous development, the PLA Air Force has reached a milestone by crossing the threshold of strategic air force, accelerating its efforts toward the goal of building a world-class air force in all respects, according to CCTV.