China showcased its latest military drone model at a major air show, the Wing Loong-3, the first to exceed intercontinental range while equipped for aerial self-defense.
The Wing Loong 3 has a 24-meter wingspan, a range of 6,200 miles, and a significantly larger capacity than its earlier versions. It’s astounding claimed range shows that the proliferation of long-range “intercontinental” drones might be around the horizon, indicating serious ramifications for global security.
The Wing Loong 3 is the heaviest among domestic and foreign medium altitude long endurance armed reconnaissance drones, according to Zhou Yi, the Wing Loong 3’s primary designer.
According to Zhou, the Wing Loong 3 is being built to suit user demands, improve technologies, and compete with top international equivalents.
The Wing Loong 3’s wingspan exceeds 24 meters, despite inheriting the Wing Loong series’ typical aerodynamic design of a pair of straight wings with a high aspect ratio plus a set of V-shaped tail wings to offer a very high lift-drag ratio.
The drone’s extended range, heavy payload, and multirole capabilities distinguish it. According to Zhou, However, the Wing Loong 3’s major performance characteristics, such as range, endurance, and cruise altitude, are among the best in the world.
The payloads carried by the Wing Loong 3 on display at the airshow included anti-radiation missiles, guided glide bombs, sonobuoy pods, cluster bombs, communications reconnaissance pod, guided rockets, sonar reconnaissance pods, loitering munitions, and even air-to-air missiles like the PL-10E. In addition, it can also carry payloads for optical, infrared, radar, and communications signal reconnaissance.
Payloads can be carried by the Wing Loong 3 under its wings, under its fuselage, and within its fuselage. Zhou added that the payload weight and several hard points on the drone are both world-leading.
With so many different types of payloads on display at the airshow, the Wing Loong 3 demonstrated its multirole capabilities, which can suit the needs of both Chinese and foreign users, he said.
In addition, it can carry out military and civilian operations such as cross-regional armed reconnaissance, cooperative support, combat in hostile settings, and emergency rescue.
According to Zhou, if everything goes as planned, the Wing Loong 3 should fly shortly and acquire operational capabilities as soon as possible.