Chengdu Aircraft Corporation revealed its second-generation Wing Loong II turboprop-powered unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) at the biennial Beijing Air Show in mid-September.

Data and images of the platform show a strong resemblance to the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) UCAV. Partial images of the UCAV seen on web pages in early March 2015 suggest that runway- or flight-testing has already started.

While the Wing Loong II name is likely its export designation, it can be expected to enter PLAAF units alongside the smaller Chengdu GJ-1/Wing Loong.

Both in configuration and dimensionally the Wing Loong II compares well to the MQ-9 Reaper. Both are powered by a single pusher turboprop engine, place their satellite communication system and primary optical system in the nose, and employ large V-stabilisers with a smaller vertical stabiliser below the empennage.

While almost identical in size, their performance differs - most likely due to their respective engines. While the MQ-9 has a maximum speed of 482 km/h and can reach a maximum altitude of 50,000 ft (15,240 m), the Wing Loong II has a maximum speed of 370 km/h and can reach an altitude of30,000 ft (9,000 m).

They also differ greatly in their external payload. The MQ-9 is credited with an external payload of 1,400 kg while the Wing Loong II can carry 480 kg.

A brochure image shows the Wing Loong II carrying 12 air-to-surface missiles. These are probably the 26.5 kg Norinco Blue Arrow 9 ground-attack missiles revealed at the 2014 Airshow China at Zhuhai. Multiple Chinese companies have developed families of UCAV weapons including precision-guided missiles, bombs, and air-to-air missiles.

Unveils next-gen Wing Loong II UCAV - IHS Jane's 360

Wing Loong II                                 MQ-9 Reaper
Powerplant 1 x turboprop                 1x Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop, 900 hp
Length 11 m                                      10.97 m
Wingspan 20.5 m                              20.12 

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