CAIG Wing Loong
|Manufacturer||Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group|
|Designer||Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute|
|Primary users||People's Liberation Army Air Force
Saudi Arabia 
United Arab Emirates
The Chengdu Pterodactyl I (Chinese: 翼龙-1; pinyin: Yìlóng-1) also known as Wing Loong is a Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), developed by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group in the People's Republic of China. Intended for use as a surveillance and aerial reconnaissance platform, the Pterodactyl I is capable of being fitted with air-to-surface weapons for use in an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) role. Based on official marketing material released by CADI, the Pterodactyl can carry the BA-7 air-to-ground missile, YZ-212 laser-guided bomb, YZ-102A anti-personnel bomb and 50-kilogram LS-6 miniature guided bomb.
Design and development
Designed and developed by the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute (CADI), a division of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the Pterodactyl I bears a distinct similarity in appearance to the Predator/Reaper family of drones developed by the United States. The drone is capable of being fitted with a variety of sensors, including a forward looking infrared turret and synthetic aperture radar. In addition, the aircraft is capable of carrying weapons. The Pterodactyl I's total payload capacity for sensors and weapons is 200 kilograms (440 lb).
According to Chengdu, the Pterodactyl I has been undergoing flight testing and has proven successful, with the flight test program including weapons tests of both bombs and air-to-surface missiles.
A model of the Pterodactyl I was displayed at the 2010 China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition at Zhuhai, the first public acknowledgment of the program; however, it was claimed by AVIC that the aircraft had been displayed at the 2008 airshow. The aircraft has been approved for export by Chinese authorities; the Pterodactyl I was evaluated by Pakistan, but was not selected for procurement.
One example of the type was known to have been lost in an accident during 2011.
Since 2011, China has also sold the Wing Loong to several countries in Africa and the Middle East, including Nigeria, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates, at an estimated $1 million per unit.
A total of five variants of Wing Loong have been identified and they are:
- Pterosaur I: First member of Wing Loong series, with program of Wing Loong begun in May 2005. Maiden flight was completed in October 2007 and payload evaluation flight was completed a year later in October 2008. This first model of Wing Loong series lacked the bulge at the nose tip of the fuselage due to the lack of a satellite antenna, and while the English name used by the developer differed from later models, the Chinese name remains the same, and so is the name Wing Loong for the entire series. The lack of satellite antenna results in cheaper cost, with the reduction of the maximum control range around to 200 km. This model is no longer actively marketed when Pterodactyl I appeared, but is still available as a cheaper alternative up on potential customers’ request.
- Pterodactyl I: The second member of Wing Loong series is distinguished from the earlier Pterosaur I in that there is a bulge at the nose tip of the fuselage to house a satellite antenna, and this is the version most widely publicized and actively marketed as a surveillance platform. United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan were reported to be the first two foreign customers of Pterodactyl I.
- Sky Saker: Sky Saker is a derivative of Wing Loong developed by Norinco mainly intended for export. The Chinese name is Rui Ying (锐鹰), meaning Sharp Eagle, but the English name adopted by the developer is Sky Saker. Sky Saker / Rui Ying carries both a miniature synthetic aperture radar and an electro-optical pod to perform reconnaissance in both the visible light and radar spectra. The capability of Sky Saker / Rui Ying has been exaggerated by many Chinese internet sources claiming that it has both scout and strike capabilities at the same time, but this has been proven to the contrary. According to all info released by Norinco itself (as of 2015), the UAV can employ only a single capability at a time: when the UAV carries the reconnaissance payload, no weaponry is carried. Similarly, when weaponry is carried, the reconnaissance payload is absent.
- WJ-1: The first land attack version of Pterodactyl I, which is a weapon platform without the reconnaissance/targeting pod under the chin. The designation WJ stands for Wu-Zhuang Wu-Ren-Ji (武装无人机), meaning armed UAV. WJ-1 UAV made its public debut in November 2014 at the 10th Zhuhai Airshow along with its cousin GJ-1.
- GJ-1: Another land attack version of Pterodactyl I that combines the capabilities of both Pterodactyl I and WJ-1 so that it can identify and engage targets on its own. GJ-1 can be distinguished from both Pterodactyl I and WJ-1 in that GJ-1 has both the reconnaissance/targeting pod under the chin as well as hardpoints to carry weapons. The designation GJ stands for Gong-Ji Wu-Ren-Ji (攻击无人机), meaning "attack UAV." GJ-1 UAV made its public debut in November 2014 at the 10th Zhuhai Airshow along with its cousin WJ-1.
- Pterodactyl II: Another upgraded, heavier variant of the Pterodactyl I, with six hardpoints and provisions for up to twelve HJ-10 missiles and/or other weapons.
Specifications (Pterodactyl I)
- Crew: None (UAV)
- Length: 9.05 m (29 ft 8 in)
- Wingspan: 14 m (45 ft 11 in)
- Height: 2.77 m (9 ft 1 in)
- Gross weight: 1,100 kg (2,425 lb)
- Propellers: 3-bladed
- Maximum speed: 280 km/h (174 mph; 151 kn)
- Range: 4,000 km (2,485 mi; 2,160 nmi)
- Endurance: 20 hours
- Service ceiling: 5,000 m (16,404 ft)
- 100 kilograms (220 lb) of air-to-surface weapons
- 100 kilograms (220 lb) capacity for sensors
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Related lists
- Wong, Edward. (2013, September 21). "Hacking U.S. Secrets, China Pushes for Drones," The New York Times, p.A1 ff.
- 25 April 2014, , The Verge: Saudi Arabia joins the killer drone arms race
- 19 November 2010, Pterodactyl-1 UAV allowed for export, Sina News (Chinese)
- China's Pterodactyl Yi Long drone weapon types - AirForceWorld.com, 16 Oct 2014
- Wall 2010
- Minnick 2010
- Zeitler 2011, p.25.
- Chinese Predator UAV look-alike crashes
- Saudi Arabia signs deal for China's Pterodactyl drone - WantChinatimes.com, 6 May 2014
- Joseph E. Lin (March 20, 2015). "China’s Weapons of Mass Consumption". Foreign Policy.
- "Pterosaur". Retrieved March 13, 2014.
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- "Pterosaur UAV". Retrieved November 16, 2012.
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- Sky Saker / Rui Ying
- "Sky Saker (Rui Ying)". Retrieved February 28, 2014.
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