CONTENT PREVIEW
Air Platforms

AVIC's turbojet-powered Cloud Shadow UAV emerges

08 November 2016
Unlike the other UAV platforms on display at Airshow China 2016, AVIC's Cloud Shadow is powered by an 'indigenous' WP11C turbojet engine. Source: IHS/Kelvin Wong

The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) unveiled the Cloud Shadow, a turbojet-powered, medium/high-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at the Airshow China 2016 exposition, which was held in the southern city of Zhuhai from 1 to 6 November.

Developed by AVIC's Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) subsidiary, the export-oriented Cloud Shadow is available in two configurations: the armed reconnaissance model, which has a maximum speed of 550 km/h but a payload capacity of 400 kg, and six underwing hardpoints for external stores; and a dedicated intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platform, which features a higher maximum speed of 620 km/h but can only carry a 200 kg payload comprising communication, and radar surveillance equipment, or high-definition photo-reconnaissance systems.

The ISR and armed reconnaissance variants are similarly equipped with a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) for improved moving target tracking performance, although only the latter carries a belly-mounted electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor turret for target designation and post-strike battle-damage assessment (BDA).

The Cloud Shadow UAV bears a striking resemblance to the General Atomics Predator C Avenger platform, although it does not appear to possess the same level of performance. (IHS/Kelvin Wong)The Cloud Shadow UAV bears a striking resemblance to the General Atomics Predator C Avenger platform, although it does not appear to possess the same level of performance. (IHS/Kelvin Wong)

Both platforms share the same 9 m long and 3.66 m tall airframe that appears to draw some degree of inspiration from the US-made General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Predator C Avenger platform, with a mid-mounted wing design that spans 17.8 m and features a forward-swept trailing edge on the inboard section tapering to a constant chord outer section, although the Cloud Shadow's wings are swept back only about 10° compared with the Avenger's more pronounced 17° sweep. However, unlike Avenger the Cloud Shadow is not equipped with an internal stores bay.

The Cloud Shadow is also equipped with V tail surfaces and a dorsally mounted pod for its propulsion system. This was revealed by AVIC to be the WP11C turbojet engine, a "modernised and refined" version of the original WP11 system developed by the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (BUAA) for unmanned aircraft applications.

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