China shows off new UAVs at Airshow China 2022

State-owned and private companies have once again taken the opportunity at the Airshow China 2022 exhibition in Zhuhai, which concluded on 13 November, to showcase the latest developments of its robust military and commercial unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry.

The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) unveiled its new MALE-class Wing Loong-3 (WL-3) armed reconnaissance UAV, which has a larger maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 6,200 kg as opposed to its predecessor Wing Loong-2 – which was also unveiled at the 2016 iteration of Airshow China – which is rated at 4,200 kg. According to official specifications, the WL-3 is claimed to be capable of carrying up to 2,300 kg of stores compared to the WL-2’s 400 kg capacity.

AVIC’s turbofan-powered Wing Loong-10 MALE UAV was also displayed in People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) colours for the first time with the in-service designation of Wuzhen-10 (WZ-10). According to the accompanying brief, the WZ-10 has been configured for electronic reconnaissance operations.

Meanwhile, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) unveiled a new variant of its Feihong-97 (FH-97) loyal wingman UAV featuring several visible design updates from the version shown at Airshow China 2021, which appears to have been inspired by the US-made Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie.

The FH-97A recently showcased, however, featured engine inlets on either side of the aircraft as opposed to the single large Valkyrie-type air inlet on the top of the FH-97. The newer model’s wings have also been visibly modified.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) also revealed its latest reusable hypersonic UAV development called the MD-22. Under development by the CAS’ Key Laboratory of High Temperature Gas Dynamics of the Institute of Mechanics and the and the Guangdong Aerospace Research Academy (GARA) as well as other partners, the MD-22 is claimed to be a Mach 7-capable aircraft – measuring 10.8 metres long with a 4.5 metre wingspan – with a stated range of 8,000 km and uses various propulsion systems to achieve hypersonic speeds.

by Jr Ng