China’s WJ-700 HALE UAV Makes Maiden Flight

China’s WJ-700 high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) unmanned air vehicle (UAV) successfully conducted its maiden flight on Jan. 11.

The maiden flight of the UAV, which is capable of surveillance and strike, was announced by its developer China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC). The maiden flight took place at an unidentified airport in Northeast China.

The drone will now carry out more test flights to examine its flight characteristics, and reconnaissance and combat capabilities. Once it enter the market, it will be available to both domestic and foreign buyers.

CASIC claims the the WJ-700 to be “the first and only high-altitude, high-speed, long-endurance combat/reconnaissance drone in China” and it is one f the limited number of similar products in the international market.

Research and development of the drone started in March 2018 at the CASIC Third Academy (China Haiying Electro-Mechanical Technology Academy), a Beijing-based subsidiary specializing in anti-ship and cruise missiles as well as unmanned aircraft. The drone was officially unveiled at the 2018 Zhuhai Airshow

The WJ-700 has a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 3.5 metric tons and is able to stay airborne for as long as 20 hours, according to Liu Liu, the UAV’s chief designer. The drone has an operational speed of 500-600 kilometers per hour, a maximum speed is 700 km/h and an operational flight ceiling is 12 km.

The drone has four underwing hardpoints that can be armed with CM-102 anti-radiation missile, C-701, and C-705KD anti-ship missiles, and land attack munition.

WJ-700 can perform a wide range of tasks on hostile battlefields, including air-to-ground standoff strikes, air-to-surface precision strikes, as well as wide-area surveillance. In addition, it will be capable of fulfilling early-warning or electronic jamming tasks when mounted with related devices.

WJ-700 is the latest of the WJ series of UAVs developed by CASIC 3rd Academy HiWING.

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