Yilong combat UAV - China
China has unveiled for the first time its Yi Long unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) local media reported on Wednesday, which its makers claim is far cheaper than its Israeli and American analogs at less than $1 million.
The UAV, which was unveiled at the Air China aerospace show in Zhuhai on Tuesday, has been under development by the Chengdu aircraft-building institute since 2005, and made a first test-flight in 2008, and has only been previously shown in model form.
Yi Long can be used for military or civil tasks, the makers say, including geophysical or post-disaster survey work. The aircraft has a length of 9.34 meters, a wingspan of 14 meters and a mass of just over a ton. It has a ceiling of 5,300 meters and a range of 4,000 kilometers, with an endurance of up to 20 hours.
Pictures shown on Sky News show it has having a similar configuration to the US-made MQ-9 Reaper, with a pusher engine, V-tail, long-span straight wing, and fuselage shape configured for low radar cross-section. It was also shown armed with under-wing missiles, and an electro-optical sensor turret under the forward fuselage.
Yi Long can carry up to foud BA-7 missile, it is believed to be a variant of Chinese AKD-10 air-to-surface missile.
The Chinese say the UAV has "already successfully entered the international market," but provided no further details.
US and European companies also took notice of efforts reported in February that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) might procure an unknown number of Yi Long (Pterodactyl) UAVs from China, said Richard Fisher, a senior fellow with the US-based International Assessment and Strategy Center. The UAE might purchase three to five of these drones, which can be armed with anti-tank weapons and GPS-guided bombs.
The Yi Long’s maximum payload is 440 pounds. It has been exhibited at past air shows with four weapons: the BA-7 air-to-ground missile, YZ-212 laser-guided bomb, YZ-102A anti-personnel bomb and 50-kilogram LS-6 miniature guided bomb.
During the Paris Air Show in July, a top manager with China National Aero Technology Import & Export Corp. (CATIC) said the Yi Long drone had been sold to two to three countries, including one in Central Asia. Four to five more countries were in negotiations on procurement of the drone, including a number of Asian and African countries, said Vasiliy Kashin, a researcher at the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies.
“Uzbekistan and UAE were mentioned among procurers by some media outlets, but these reports could not be officially verified,” he said.
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