China introduces “intercontinental” combat drones.

China launched the 10,000 km “intercontinental” range Wing Loong 3 military drone, which is outfitted with 16 missiles and guided bombs.

The Wing Loong 3 combat unmanned aerial vehicle (UCAV) was on exhibit by the Aviation Technology Corporation of China (AVIC) as part of the ongoing Zhuhai Airshow in Guangdong.

The Wing Loong 3 is the first model in the Wing Loong family to “achieve intercontinental range,” according to Chinese official media, with a range of 10,000 km. The aircraft is 12.2 metres long and has a wingspan of 24 metres. It can carry 16 different guided bombs and missiles, including PL-10E short-range air-to-air missiles. It can also carry electronic combat systems and reconnaissance equipment.

“Wing Loong 3 is capable of completing missions across continents, such as long-range patrols, fast target raids, and long-range surveillance. It has entirely more advanced weapons. In terms of payload and kind, when compared to current models of UAVs flying at medium altitudes for a prolonged period, “Zhou Yi, the project’s general engineer for the Wing Loong 3 building, remarked.

Yue Gang, a former colonel in the Chinese army , said that the PL-10E missile provides the Wing Loong 3’s self-defense capability on the battlefield, and allows it to attack targets such as UAVs and enemy helicopters. The large size also helps the aircraft achieve a large range, carry a variety of weapons and perform a variety of tasks.

AVIC said it is looking to deploy the Wing Loong 3 mass production line.

Similar US combat UAV model is the MQ-9 Reaper with a length of 11 m, a wingspan of 20 m, a flight range of 1,900 km, carrying 6 missiles and bombs of all kinds. During the US Air Force’s 2020 live-fire test, the MQ-9 launched an AIM-9X Block 2 short-range surface-to-air missile to destroy a simulated cruise missile target.

The Wing Loong UAVs have been exported by China to at least 11 countries, including those in Africa and the Middle East, having participated in many conflicts such as the civil war in Libya.

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