China's Chengdu Aircraft Industry (Group) Company (CAC) has sold two of its Wing-Loong unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) to the Kazakhstan Air Defence Forces in a move that marks the company's first such sale in Central Asia, local media reported.
Chinese media noted that discussions regarding the purchase date back to 2012 when it was agreed that China would provide a sample for evaluation. Kazakhstani military officials were able to see the Wing-Loong (also known as the GJ-1, WD-1K, Pterosaur, Yilong or Pterodactyl I) in action during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's (SCO's) August 2014 Peace Mission exercise hosted by China.
Reports from Kazakhstan indicate the Wing-Loongs were delivered in late March 2016. This follows the sale of the UCAVs to the United Arab Emirates in 2011 and to Saudi Arabia in 2014, the latter of which is believed to have employed them in Yemen. The Wing-Loong has also been acquired by the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).
Designed by the Guizhou Aircraft Industries Group, which works closely with CAC, the Wing-Loong was first revealed in a brochure distributed at the 2004 Zhuhai Airshow. Its first recorded flight took place in 2007.
Generally comparable to the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator, the Wing-Loong weighs about 1.1 tonnes, is powered by a Rotax 914 engine - just like the MQ-1 - and has an endurance of about 20 hours. Its 200 kg payload can include BA-7 laser-guided anti-tank missiles, TY-90 air-to-air missiles, and small precision-guided bombs.
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