New drones of Wing Loong family debut at Airshow China
Published: Nov 08, 2022 09:25 PM
Wing Loong 1E Photo: Courtesy of AVIC

Wing Loong 1E Photo: Courtesy of AVIC

A number of new drones of the Wing Loong family, including the Wing Loong 1E, Wing Loong 3 and Wing Loong 10A, made their debuts at Airshow China, fully demonstrating the comprehensive strength of China's aviation industry in the field of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

Since its debut in Zhuhai in 2012, the name Wing Loong has become synonymous with China's drone industry. In the subsequent 10 years, the Wing Loong family has developed fast with multiple models, wide operational applications and strong task capability. The drones have been widely used in the military and civilian fields, and have been sold around the world.

The Global Times learned on Tuesday from Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the manufacturer of the Wing Long family, that the Wing Loong 1E UAV, which debuted in Zhuhai for the first time in the form of a real aircraft, is a next-generation, medium- to long-endurance armed reconnaissance UAV system developed on the basis of the Wing Loong 1. Wing Loong 1E made its maiden flight earlier this year.

The Wing Loong 1E has a long range and flight duration, high altitude takeoff and landing features, and strong adaptability to complex environmental conditions. It can carry different loads according to the characteristics of the mission, so as to achieve the purpose of "multiple uses of one drone." 

The aircraft will be able to carry out continuous intelligence reconnaissance and surveillance over land and sea, take part in combat air patrols and close air support, provide guided weapons with mid-range guidance and target guidance, support precision fire strikes and fixed point clearance, carry out damage assessment and other missions, and offer good mission expansion capability, said the company. 

Tang Yong, chief designer of the Wing Loong-1E, told the Global Times that in flight control, the Wing Loong 1E can collect the same signal with three sensors at the same time, and calculate the same instruction by three computers at the same time to ensure the correct control decisions and instructions. 

At the same time, it can deal with tens of thousands of fault modes under emergency conditions. Even if it stops in the air, it can also automatically plan a route and realize a non-powered crash landing. In the aspect of linking and navigation, all kinds of interference and hijacking scenarios have been fully considered and automatically dealt with.

With a maximum endurance of 45 hours and a maximum range of 7,000 kilometers, the Wing-Loong 1E can fly at an altitude of 10,000 meters while carrying two 50kg-class weapons, giving it a strong takeoff and landing performance. Even at a high-altitude airport of 4,000 meters above sea level, the Wing-Loong 1E can take off and land normally under the maximum weight condition of the external configuration. Taking off and landing at the maximum weight of a low-altitude airport requires only a few hundred meters, Tang said. 

The Wing-Loong 1E is also equipped with high-performance photoelectric sensors and multifunctional radar. Besides conventional photoelectric and radar detection, it is also capable of digital photography, geo-positioning and meteorological detection, according to Tang.

With the development of technology, Wing Loong series UAVs continue to evolve. According to Tang, in the Wing Loong 1E UAVs, technologies such as photoelectric/radar sensing coordination, attack and flight coordination, navigation and anti-deception, attack route planning, and virtual sensors have all become "standard features" of the platform. At the same time, the ground station's intelligence data fusion, autonomous task planning, intelligent target identification and other capabilities have also greatly improved the intelligence level of the system.
Wing Loong-3 Photo: Liu Xuanzun/GT

Wing Loong-3 Photo: Liu Xuanzun/GT

 Apart from the Wing Loong 1E, as the star of the Wing Loong family at the Airshow, the Wing Loong 3 is a long-range, heavy-duty, multi-tasking, medium-long endurance UAV system developed by the AVIC on the basis of the Wing Loong series of UAV systems. It is the latest member of the Wing Loong family.

According to the company, the Wing Loong 3's UAV system consists of the UAV platform, mission payload, ground control station and integrated support system. The Wing Loong 3's UAV system has fully autonomous takeoff, landing and cruise flight capabilities, air-to-ground coordination capabilities, and ground relay control capabilities. 

Equipped with visible light, infrared light, radar, communication signals and other reconnaissance loads, it has the capabilities of all-area reconnaissance, intelligent fusion processing, accurate reconnaissance, identification and positioning.

The Wing Loong 3 can perform a full field reconnaissance and cross-domain support collaboration. The drone can also be used for anti-submarine warfare, anti-radiation, low-altitude alert and interception, electronic reconnaissance and interference, communications relay, and maritime rescue missions.

Other members of the Wing Loong family such as the Wing Loong 2D, Wing Loong 2Y and Wing Loong 2H also debuted in the form of models for the first time at the air show. They are the new UAV systems developed based on the Wing Loong 2. 

The Wing Loong 10A and the Wing Loong 10B also made their debuts at Airshow China. The Wing Loong 10A is an export-oriented UAV system developed according to the needs of the international market, mainly carrying out high-altitude, long-endurance, long-range reconnaissance and precision strike missions. 

The Wing Loong 10B is a high-altitude, high-speed and long-endurance UAV system, which can realize different tasks on the same platform system through the flexible configuration of different mission loads.