It was reported (January 2012) that the first sub-orbital flight of a new unmanned spacecraft (Divine Dragon) took place successfully in 2011 onboard a rocket booster. The spacecraft is thought to be similar to American X-37B OTV in configuration but smaller. It was developed by the 611 Institute.

WD-1K/GJ-1 Wing Loong I

A PLAAF WD-1K UCAV was taking off. This medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UCAV similar to American MQ-1 Predator has been developed by the 611 Institute/CAC/GAIC since 2005 known as Wing Loong I/Pterosaur I. First flight took place in October 2007. It features a head bulge which houses a SATCOM antenna, which allows the UCAV to communicate with the ground control station via a satellite, a communication relay UAV, or direct signal transmission. An EO turret (Loong Eye?) housing FLIR/TV/laser range finder/laser designator is mounted under its nose for tracking and locking on ground targets in poor weather conditions. As the result the UCAV can not only direct the missiles launched by itself, but also guide the PGMs launched by other aircraft or by the ground force. It is powered by a 100hp ROTAX 914 piston engine. The UCAV normally carries two KD-10/BA-7 laser guided ATGMs as its primary weapon. It can also carry two YZ-100 series 100kg cluster bombs as well. In 2012 UAE was believed to have become the first foreign customer of Wing Loong I. Saudi Arabia is also believed to have acquired Wing Loong I in 2014, armed with BA-7 ATGMs. A few have been shot down in Yemen since 2016. More Wing Loong Is were produced for new foreign customers. Two were reportedly delivered to Kazakhstan in March 2016. Pakistani AF is also believed to have been operating Wing Loong I since mid-2016. Other countries operating the UCAV include Egypt (10 in 2016), Indonesia (4 in early 2018) and Uzbekistan (contract signed in 2018). Serbia also ordered 9 in 2019. An image taken during the SCO Peace Mission 2014 military exercise confirmed that the UCAV called WD-1K/GJ-1 has been in service with PLAAF as its first operational UCAV (S/N 76x2x, 78x9x, 53x3x). Around 100 were produced by the end of 2018. Some specifications: weight 1,100kg, max speed 280km/hr, range 4,000km, endurance 20hr, service ceiling 5,000m, weapon load 200kg. The latest news (November 2018) suggested that Egypt has ordered 32 improved Wing Loong-1D which features a more powerful domestic engine (C145), all composite material construction, SAR and 4 underwing pylons. Some specifications: weapon load 400kg, endurance 35hr, service ceiling 7,500m. First flight of Wing Loong-1D took place on December 23, 2018.
- Last Updated 9/13/19

GJ-2 Wing Loong II

It was first unveiled in September 2015 that a bigger and more powerful variant called Wing Loong II was under development at the 611 Institute and GAIC. It is powered by a new turboprop engine (WJ-9A/AEP50E, 500kW) and can carry up to 12 ATGMs. Its MTOW is 4,200kg, max external load is 480kg, max speed is 370km/hr, ceiling is 9,000m, endurance is 20hr. The UCAV also has an SAR radar installed in its nose for acquiring ground target in poor weather conditions. A small datalink antenna for guiding missiles was also installed underneath the starboard side of the forward fuselage. The UCAV is able to search, track and destroy ground targets as well as take off and land autonomously using advanced AI technology. The maiden flight of the 01 prototype took place on February 27, 2017. Wing Loong II was speculated to have been ordered by PLAAF, UAE, Saudi Arabia (300?), Egypt and Bangladesh. In December 2017 Wing Long II underwent weapon integration tests by launching various GPS/laser/IR guided air-to-air, air-to-surface missiles and bombs. A satellite image taken in October 2017 suggested that UAE acquired the first batch of Wing Loong II UCAV which has been involved in the war in Libya with BA-7 ATGMs. Several have been shot down since August 2019. A recent news (October 2018) claimed that Pakistan plans to produce 48 Wing Loong II under licence at PAC Kamra. A recent image (November 2018) indicated that Wing Loong II (without winglets) has entered the service with PLAAF in Yunnan Province facing Myanmar as GJ-2 (S/N 53x3x). GJ-2 is exepcted to carry KD-9 and KD-10 laser guided missiles. At least one ELINT variant was identified in November 2019 with a cluster of antennas installed on a dish underneath the fuselage as well as conformal ELINT antenna strips on both sides of the forward fuselage. The latest satellite image (November 2019) indicated that at least one GJ-2 has been deployed in Tibet facing India.
- Last Updated 3/24/20

WZ-7/EA-03 Soaring Dragon

Besides Wing Loong, another long-range semi-stealth UAV called EA-03 (WZ-7) has been developed by 611 Institute and GAIC. This large UAV features a box/diamond wing design to increase lift while reducing drag and weight. WZ-7 reportedly weighs 7,500kg and has a range of 7,000km, a cruising speed of 750km/hr and a cruising altitude of 18,000m. A technology demonstrator called Soaring Dragon was first built at CAC for ground testing in 2011. Subsequently it underwent substantial redesign based on the issues revealed during the tests. The new redesigned WZ-7 appears to feature several major changes. It has a smaller length and wingspan. It also has twin vertical slanted tailfins extending outwards plus twin ventral stabilizing fins. This gives the UAV a lower profile than its predecessor. Similar to BZK-009, it has a head bulge housing a SATCOM antenna, as well as a dorsal air intake. The engine was speculated to be a turbojet initially and later the domestic AI-222-25 turbofan without A/B developed by the 649 Institute. Three small optical windows can be seen underneath the nose which could house FLIR and TV cameras. Another small fairing is installed under the rear fuselage probably for ELINT purpose. The UAV is expected to fly long-range recon and EW missions. It was rumored that a WZ-7 prototype was built by mid-2012 and first flight took place in late 2012 at the GAIC airfield. Currently WZ-7 is in production at GAIC and has entered the service with PLAAF as a strategic HALE recon UAV. A recent satellite image (August 2017) indicated that 3 WZ-7s were deployed in Tibet during the Doklam standoff with India in summer 2017, wearing a blue-gray color scheme. A recent satellite image (October 2019) indicated that at least 9 WZ-7s were deployed  in Jilin Province facing North Korea. The latest satellite image (November 2019) indicated that 3 WZ-7s were deployed in Guangdong Province facing the South China Sea.
- Last Updated 12/1/19


It was first reported and rumored in September 2015 that an unmanned supersonic cruising vehicle featuring a turbojet/ramjet combined cycle engine (TBCC) and developed by the 611 Institute was tested for the first time. The vehicle was carried under the belly of an H-6 carrier. After being released, it climbed up into the stratosphere with the help of a solid rocket boosterThen it cruised at an altitude of >30km while at a speed of >Mach 3. After the supersonic flight the vehicle glided back to the base and landed safely. A recent satellite image (June 2018) indicated that a triangular shaped high altitude/high speed UAV was entering the service with PLAAF as a strategic reconnaissance UAV (WZ-8) similar to American D-21. WZ-8 was unveiled during the military parade celebrating China's 70th anniversary on October 1, 2019. However the UAV appears to be powered by twin liquid fuel (hydrazine based) rocket engines (YF-50A?) instead of a turbojet/ramjet engine. It might also feature a conformal SAR radar in the leading edge of its wing and dorsal SATCOM antennas for real time HD image transmission. Currently WZ-8 is being manufactured at GAIC and is in service together with the PLAAF H-6M bomber unit in eastern China facing Taiwan and Japan (S/N 21x1x).  Its carrier might be either H-6M or H-6N. It was rumored that the UAV already flew secret recon missions near Taiwan as well as the disputed Senkaku Islands in East China Sea. Some specifications (estimated): cruising speed 3,500km, cruising altitude: 40,000m, range: 1,500km.
- Last Updated 5/10/20

Divine Eagle

This large high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) UAV has been under development at 601 Institute/SAC since the last decade as an "anti-stealth" AEW platform. The UAV features a novel twin fuselage design with twin large vertical tailfins and an extra-long main wing extending across the rear fuselage. It also has a small canard wing connecting the head sections of twin fuselages in order to maintain the structural integrity of the UAV. A SATCOM antenna is expected to be installed inside the head bulge on the port side. The UAV is thought to be powered by a medium-thrust turbofan engine without A/B (WS-12) located above the main wing and between the two vertical tainfins. As an AEW platform Divine Eagle is expected to have multiple conformal radar antenna arrays installed along the forward fuselages as well as the leading edge of the forward canard wing. The ultra wide-band phased array radar is capable of detecting stealth aircraft at a relatively long range but suffers from a lower accuracy. Therefore several Divine Eagles may fly ahead in a group formation while being controlled via datalink by the AWACS flying behind in a safe distance or by the ground station protected by the air defense unit. Together they act as an airborne multistatic radar system and are able to pick up the radar reflection signals of the same stealth aircraft from multiple directions. As the result the UAV can extend both the detecting range and accuracy of the AWACS against stealth aircraft. The design of Divine Eagle appear to share some similarity with the Russian Sukhoi S-62 concept which first appeared around 2000. It was reported that Russian assistance was sought during the initial development stage. A technology demonstrator was built by the spring 2015. Low speed taxi tests took place in May 2015. It was rumored that the UAV made its first flight in October 2015. Some specifications (estimated): height 6m, length 14m, wingspan 35m, endurance >20hr, ceiling 18km. If successfully entering the service, Divine Eagle would become the first airborne anti-stealth radar system in the world and could be used to counter American F-22s, F-35s and B-2s. The first Divine Eagle prototype was transferred to GAIC for further testing in summer 2016. A recent satellite image (December 2017) suggested that the 2nd prototype was built at GAIC. The latest satellite image (November 2018) indicated that one Divine Eagle was being evaluated by PLAAF.
- Last Updated 11/14/18

GJ-11 Sharp Sword

It was reported that 601 and Hongdu have been working on a long-range stealth UCAV similar to American X-47B and Russian Skat. A scale model was publicized in September 2011 revealing an X-47B style tailless flying wing and a triangular dorsal air intake configuration, in an effort to minimize RCS and reduce IR emission. The UCAV also features a SATCOM datalink antenna located aft the dorsal air intake. As a UCAV, Sharp Sword is expected to carry at least two 500kg GPS/Beidou guided bombs or LGBs separately inside two internal bomb bays. Its wings appears foldable, suggesting it could be deployed on an aircraft carrier, like X-47B. Its length is around 10m and wingspan is around 14m, combat radius >1,000km. The first prototype was built by the end of 2012. First high speed taxiing took place on January 26, 2013, probably powered by an indigenous WS-13 turbofan without A/B. However the engine nozzle appears to be unshielded which might increase its thermal signature. The Sharp Sword 001 prototype took off for the first time on November 21, 2013 from the GAIC UAV Test Base. It was rumored in November 2015 that the improved 002 prototype might have flown in 2016. Besides Sharp Sword, another UAV flying wing design (WZ-3000?/CH-X?) was developed by NTU. This high-altitude/long endurance UAV, which resembles American RQ-180, was thought to have first flown in 2012. At least two prototypes were built. A recent rumor (May 2017) claimed that after 5 years of testing Sharp Sward was finally ready for production at Hongdu/GAIC and to enter the service with PLAAF as a medium-range ground attack stealth UCAV (GJ-11). A recent images of an AVIC scale model (December 2017) suggested that GJ-11 to go into production has undergone some modifications including a shielded engine exaust, a chin-mounted IRST, conformal (phased array/EW?) antennas embedded in the leading edges of  flying wing, two optimized internal bomb bays for Beidou guided glide bombs of different weights (100kg & 500kg). The UCAV may be powered by a new engine as well. A "technology demonstrator" (model?) of GJ-11 was unveiled during the military parade celebrating China's 70th anniversary. Some specifications (estimated): length >12m, wing span >14m, weapon load >2,000kg, MTOW >14t, combat radius >1,500km. It was speculated that ultimately a group of GJ-11s might fly combat missions in formation with J-20 similar to the American XQ-58A Loyal Wingman project.
- Last updated 10/6/19