The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force’s WZ-7 high-altitude reconnaissance drone will make its debut at the six-day Airshow China 2021, which opens in Zhuhai tomorrow.
Revealing the line-up for the exhibition, PLA Air Force spokesman, Senior Colonel Shen Jinke, said that the J-20 stealth fighter jet and Y-20 large transport aircraft will join the event, the KJ-500 early warning aircraft and the H-6K bomber will be put on static display, and the J-16D electronic warfare aircraft and the WZ-7 reconnaissance drone will make their first public appearance, China Central Television (CCTV) reported.
Developed and produced by China, the WZ-7 is a high-altitude reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed to conduct missions including border reconnaissance and maritime patrols, CCTV said.
Featuring a tandem-wing design, the extra-large WZ-7 has an extended flight capability, which makes completing its missions possible, a Chinese military expert told the Global Times.
The drone’s official designation is now confirmed as the WZ-7, and the PLA Air Force is presenting it to the general public at the air show indicating that it has entered service, the expert said, noting that it was previously known by its codename, the Soar Dragon.
The other new face at the Airshow China is the J-16D, which is a new type of electronic warfare aircraft capable of reconnaissance, attack and defence, CCTV reported, noting that it was developed based on the J-16 fighter jet.
Shen said that the J-16D has entered combat-scenario exercises, and this has further enhanced the PLA Air Force’s electronic warfare attack capabilities, which expands the scope of combat and contributes to the strategic transformation of the Air Force.
Electronic warfare aircraft can accompany other warplanes and provide them with electronic warfare support, for example, conducting electronic jamming or deception, or they can also launch direct attacks on hostile radar installations or early warning aircraft, Wang Ya’nan, chief editor of Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times.
The J-20 stealth fighter jet and the JL-10 advanced trainer jet will stage flight demonstrations at the air show, CCTV reported.
The appearance of the J-20 at the exhibition will demonstrate the aircraft’s continued improvement in its capabilities to carry out its duties and missions, CCTV said.
Two of the PLA Air Force’s top aerobatic teams, the 1 August Aerobatic Team and the Red Eagle Aerobatic Team from the PLA Air Force Aviation University, will also give performances with J-10 fighter jets and K-8 trainer jets.
The PLA Air Force will display its new achievements in pushing for strategic transformation and its efforts to become world-class, showing its pursuit of value, development concept and historical heritage as the air force of a major power, Shen said.
China has been active in the development of UAVs, with several models, including the WZ-8 high-altitude, high-speed spy drone and GJ-2 medium-altitude, long-endurance combat drone already in military service. An export version of the latter, known as the Wing Loog II has been sold overseas.
Aircraft Industry Group, which makes the Wing Loong, is currently working on the Yunying high-speed combat drone.
Airshow China 2021 starts on 28 September and ends on 3 October.