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AAD 2022: Norinco Sky Saker FX400A in service with PLAAF

Having completed trials in 2021, the Sky Saker FX400A UCAV is now in PLAAF service. (Janes/Akshara Parakala)

China North Industries Corporation (Norinco) has confirmed the Sky Saker FX400A tactical unmanned combat aerial vehicle's (UCAV's) entry into the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) service.

A scale model was displayed at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) 2022 exhibition in Pretoria, which was held from 21 to 25 September. Speaking to Janes at the expo, an official who declined to be identified said that the UCAV had completed trials in 2021 and is operationally deployed.

The official declined to reveal the command or the base fielding the UCAV, but said that it is deployed in an armed configuration, carrying at least two Blue Arrow 7 anti-tank missile systems.

According to details released by Norinco, the platform is smaller than the previously deployed Sky Saker FX500. The UCAV is said to provide tactical-level intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), including target designation and strike capabilities. It features a high tapered-wing, boom-mounted H-tail,tricycle fixed landing gear,and a rear-mounted, domestically produced gasoline engine driving a three-bladed pusher propeller. Each wing incorporates a hardpoint for the carriage of various weapons, and the fuselage has a provision for an electro optic/infra-red (EO/IR) turret under the nose.

The UCAV has a 200 km range and an endurance of more than eight hours at an optimum cruise speed ranging between 140 and 160 km/h, a top speed of 180 km/h, and a service ceiling of 18,000 ft. The EO/IR sensor has a detection and recognition range of between 6 and 10 km, while the laser designator has an illumination range of 8 km and a ranging distance of 15 km.

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