UAV/UCAV

In recent years, numerous types of UAVs have been developed in China by various universities, research institutes and manufactures. However most of them failed to enter series production or the service due to the poor performance and relatively primitive technology utilized. As a result, only a handful modern UAVs with sufficient technological sophistication are lucky enough to enter the service with PLA. 

Harpy/JWS01

A group of PLAAF JWS01 UCAV launch vehicles were on display during the parade celebrating the 90th Anniversary of PLA, each carrying 6 UCAVs. Previously acquired secretly from Israel in 1994, this highly classified UCAV (called Harpy) was unknown to the West until 2004 when they were returned to Israel for upgrade. Developed by IAI in the early 90s, Harpy is the first UCAV which features a passive radar seeker and can be used as a long-range anti-radiation weapon to attack enemy radar stations. Its range is 500km, max speed 185km/hr, warhead 32kg. Several Harpy can operate in a pack for coordinated attack. One Harpy UCAV launch vehicle can carry 18 box launchers. In 2004 Chinese were trying have them upgraded by Israelis but the attempt was discovered and subsequently blocked by the US government. All UCAVs were returned to China without any upgrades. Images from April 2011 suggested that Chinese have developed their own version of Harpy (JWS01 or K/JWF1?) by reverse-engineering which likely started around 2005. Two new types of seeker with slightly different sizes have been identified (Type I & Type II?), suggesting different homing frequencies. However the launch vehicle now carries only 9 launchers instead of 18. The latest news (February 2017) suggested that the UCAV has been offered for export as ASN-301, which features two pairs of retractable direction-finding antenna blades pointing straight above and below the main body. The radar homing seeker has a search range of 25km and a frequency coverage of 2-16GHz.
- Last Updated 3/1/17

BZK-005 Giant Eagle

A PLAAF BZK-005 reconnaissance UAV was displayed publicly while preparing for the 2015 VJ Day Parade on September 3rd. BZK-005 was developed by BUAA and Harbin Aviation Industrial Group (HAIG) in early 2000s as a medium/high altitude long range reconnaissance UAV for strategic missions. Its prototype was unveiled briefly in an AVIC promotional video at the 2006 Zhuhai International Airshow. The UAV features a stealth optimized fuselage, a three propeller pusher piston engine, and twin tail booms with V-shaped tailfins. A SATCOM antenna is thought to be installed inside the head bulge, which provides live data transmission over thousands of kilometers. A small turret is installed underneath the nose housing the FLIR/CCD cameras. Those can be used for photo reconnaissance if needed. The UAV also features a large wingspan and is constructed using a large amount of composite materials. These help to increase its range and cruising altitude, while reduce its RCS. Its specifications are: cruising speed 150-180km/hr, service ceiling 8,000m, endurance 40hr, max TO weight <1,250kg, max payload >150kg, TO distance <600m, landing distance <500m. Currently BZK-005 is in service with PLAN as well (dubbed Sea Eagle?). Satellite images indicated that BZK-005 has been deployed in Spratly Islands facing Southeast Asia as well as in Tibet facing India. Its export version is called BZK-005E. The latest image (November 2018) indicated that an improved UCAV variant has been developed. This variant (BZK-005C) features a pair of underwing pylons and is able to carry up to 300kg of various weapons.
- Last Updated 11/29/18

BZK-006A

A group of PLA Army soldiers were loading a BZK-006A (WZ-6A or K/JWR6A?) tactical reconnaissance UAV onto its launch vehicle. This light-weight medium-range UAV has been evolved from the earlier ASN-206/207 general purpose platform (T-18) developed in mid-90s by Northwest Polytechnic University (NTU). BZK-006A carries a retractable turret underneath the nose housing the FLIR/CCD cameras for day/night missions. It can also carry a small ground surveillance radar as well. A mushroom shaped communication antenna is installed on top of the head section which provides the real-time datalink between the UAV and the ground command & control station. Each station can control two UAVs at a same time. Some specifications: length 4.3m, height 1.5m, endurance 12hr. BZK-006A is powered by a 4-cylinder piston engine. It uses rocket assisted take off (RATO) and parachute landing. Additional variants were developed for specialized missions such as artillery directing (JWP01A/JWP02), communication jamming (RKT164, RKT167), communication relay (TKJ226), decoy (RKL165), ECM (RKZ167) and radar jamming
- Last Updated 5/10/18


BZK-007 Sunshine

BZK-007 medium altitude/long endurance (MALE) UAV was co-developed by GAAC and BUAA in the early 2000s and was unveiled briefly at the 2006 Zhihai Airshow. It first flew on August 8, 2005 as a civilan remote sensoring system (Harrier Hawk). Currently the UAV has also been in service with PLA Army as a tactical reconnaissance UAV (designation BZK-007, S/N 0x0x). It can carry a variety of equipment including FLIR, CCD TV camera, as well as remote sensors of different spectral bands. Most EO sensors are located inside a turret underneath the fuselage right behind the wing section. A SATCOM antenna inside a large dorsal bulge provides real-time transmission of data and commands between the UAV and the ground control station. BZK-007 UAV is powered by a piston engine with a 3-blade propeller and is able to take off/land autonomously with retractable or non-retractable landing gears. Some specifications: length 7.7m, height 2.74m, wingspan 14.6m,max TO weight 700kg, mission payload 60-100kg, max level speed 230km/hr, ceiling 7,500m, endurance 16 hr.
- Last Updated 3/10/19

BZK-008

Recent photos taken during the 2015 VJ Day Parade in Beijing showed a new small tactical reconnaissance UAV (BZK-008/CH-91?) which first entered the service with PLA Army in 2011. Developed by CASC, the UAV carries a retractable EO turret containing FLIR and CCD camera for both day and night missions. BZK-008 is light-weight and can be deployed quickly on the battlefield using RATO. Due to its short range, the intelligence gathered is transmitted directly back to the ground station. The latest video (August 2018) suggested that an improved variant (BZK-008A?) has entered the service with PLA Army, featuring a mushroom shaped communication antenna on top. Additional variants include ECM and communication relay have been in service with the Army as well.
- Last updated 10/18/19

FX500 Sky Saker

This jet-powered high speed/high altitude reconnaissance UAV was co-developed by NUAA and NORINCO for rapid artillery directing, especially for the long range MRLS (~300km). The UAV features short straight wings and a V tail. It is powered by a small turbobjet with the S-shaped air intake located above the rear fuselage and between the V tail. This helps to improve its stealth capability and survivability on the battlefield. Based upon customer's request, FX500 can have the options of SAR and SATCOM installed in its head and nose, datalink antenna on its back, as well as EO turret underneath its head. FX500 is normally transported and launched from the launch vehicle using RATO, making it more flexible and versatile on the battlefield. Some specifications: TO weight 500kg, speed 800km/hr, ceiling 9,000m, load 50kg, loitering time: 2 hr. FX500 was first unveiled at the 2018 Zhuhai Airshow. Recently FX500 was publicly displayed at the military parade celebrating China's 70th anniversary on October 1, 2019, indicating it has entered the service with PLA Army (exact designation unknown).
- Last Updated 10/20/19