China’s state-owned aircraft manufacturer, Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) has conducted the maiden flight of its Wing Loong I-D strike-capable reconnaissance medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on Dec. 23.
The Wing Loong I-D is an upgraded variant of the Wing Loong I (Pterodactyl I) UAV, with improved aerodynamics and engine enabling greater takeoff weight, service ceiling, and endurance. Other upgrades include both internal and external stores, as well as communications equipment.
According to AVIC, the Wing Loong I-D is expected to be approximately 8.7 m in length, 3.2 m in height, and have a wingspan of 17.6 m. The UAV, which is powered by a piston engine, is able to achieve a maximum speed of 280 km/h and a service ceiling of 7,500 m (24,600 ft). The reported operating endurance is around 35 hours.
The Wing Loong family of UAV’s are developed by AVIC’s Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute (CADI) subsidiary. Wing Loong I has entered service with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) under the designation of Gongji-1 (GJ-1, Attack-1) and Wing Loong II as the Gongji-2.