China’s CATIC is marketing an astonishing array of unmanned aerial vehicle designs, but is displaying just a few of these on its stand (11-A24).
These represent a selection of developed and mature designs capable of fulfilling real operational roles, and which CATIC believe might meet the requirements of regional air forces.
Four of the company’s unmanned aerial systems are being shown at IDEX in model form, including the Shanghai UVS Intelligence System Company’s innovative UVS-S100 amphibious UAS, which made its maiden flight last year, and which has a configuration reminiscent of the Lake Buccaneer, with a pusher engine driving a three-bladed propeller.
The aircraft has a range of 200km, an endurance of eight hours and carries a payload of 240kg. The model is shown with electro-optic/ infra-red sensor turrets below both wings.
Also displayed is a model of the Aisheng ASN-209H, the latest variant in Aisheng’s family of tactical UAVs, which can be configured for ground-moving target indication, electronic intelligence, electronic warfare, ground target designation and communications relay missions.
The model has a fixed tricycle landing gear with spatted mainwheels, where earlier variants used simple skids. The aircraft is of twin-boom configuration, with the booms linked by a single-piece tailplane.
Another tactical UAS on display is the Nimble Loong, which has not previously been seen and is believed to be a product of the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group. Catapult-launched, the 30kg Nimble Loong has an endurance of three to four hours using gasoline, or six to eight hours using heavy fuel, and has a mission payload of 3kg. The aircraft has winglets and separate twin booms, swept tail surfaces and a slightly swept wing. The Nimble Loong is closely comparable to the Boeing Insitu RQ-21 Blackjack (formerly known as the Integrator).
The final model on display at IDEX is the Wing Loong-1 hunter-killer UAS, also known as the Pterodactyl I and another product of Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group. It is similar in appearance to the General Atomics Predator/Reaper, and can be fitted with various sensors, including an EO/IR turret and synthetic aperture radar. The aircraft can also carry a weapon load of 200kg.