skip to main content

Chinese air force equips 16th Air Division with WZ-7 HALE UAVs

A screengrab from video footage released by CCTV on 10 November showing a WZ-7 HALE UAV in PLAAF service bearing serial number ‘20171', indicating that the platform is operated by the service's 16th Special Mission Air Division. (CCTV)

Video footage provided by Chinese state-owned media indicates that the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has been equipping its 16th Special Mission Air Division with the WZ-7 Xianglong (Soaring Dragon) high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Released by China Central Television (CCTV) on 10 November, the footage shows at least two examples of the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR)-capable UAV painted in a low-visibility, grey colour scheme and featuring PLAAF insignia.

The UAVs, which reportedly took part in a training exercise featuring J-20 and J-16 multirole fighters, J-16D electronic warfare-capable aircraft, Y-20 transport, KJ-500 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, as well as HQ-9B air-defence systems, were shown bearing serial numbers ‘21071' and ‘21074' respectively.

These numbers adhere to the format ‘21x7x', which is used for aerial assets operated by the 16th Special Mission Air Division, which is under the PLA's Northern Theatre Command. That said, it is unclear where the footage was taken.

The WZ-7, which has been in PLAAF service since at least 2018, had previously been seen deployed to several other air bases, including Dingxin, Malan, Wuwei, Suixi, Lingshui, Shigatse, and Yishuntun, the latter of which is north of Shuangliao in China's Jilin Province near North Korea and is probably the type's main operating base.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...