Chinese UAV WZ-7 Soar Dragon conducts live combat training

According to information published by the Chinese Ministry of Defense last November, the new Chinese-made WZ-7 "Soar Dragon", High-Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) drone type was deployed for the first time by the Chinese armed forces to conduct live combat training. 

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Chinese UAV WZ 7 Soar Dragon conducts live combat training 01 China's latest WZ-7 high-altitude reconnaissance drone with the "Φ type" tandem-wing aerodynamic configuration (Picture source: Chinese state media)

During the exercise involving multi-type aircraft, by giving full play to its advantages of high-altitude and long-endurance capability, the WZ-7 quickly captured target traces based on battlefield situation and uploaded the acquired information to the command post, thus providing strong support for the airborne fighter groups to carry out penetration and assault operations.

The WZ-7 Soar Dragon is an unmanned aerial vehicle of the High-Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) type, featuring an unusual joined, tandem wing plan, the "Φ type" tandem-wing aerodynamic configuration - a world's first to use such design in an aircraft. In 2011, it was being developed for reconnaissance and possible anti-shipping missions.

The Soar Dragon, designed by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group and produced by the Guizhou Aircraft Industry Corporation for service with the People's Liberation Army Air Force, was originally displayed as a model at the Zhuhai Air Show in 2006 and finally unveiled during China Airshow 2021.Optimized for long-endurance missions at high altitudes, the drone features an unusual tandem, joined wing platform. Except for the wing and the configuration of vertical stabilizers, the Soar Dragon is similar in appearance and mission to the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk operated by the U.S. Air Force.

Large by the standards of UAVs, the Soar Dragon's joined wing allows for a more rigid, less flexible wing than other configurations, with benefits said to include an increased lift-to-drag ratio and less complex flight controls than a HALE UAV with a conventional wing would require. The aircraft is powered by a Guizhou WP-13 turbojet engine, a copy of the Soviet Tumansky R-13; it is anticipated that a newer, improved engine, is or will be installed in production aircraft.

In service with the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), the primary mission of the Soar Dragon is aerial reconnaissance, but the aircraft can also be fitted with sensors suitable for designating naval vessels for targeting by anti-ship ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.

Chinese UAV WZ 7 Soar Dragon conducts live combat training 02

The Chinese Air Force will display for the first time the WZ-7 high-altitude reconnaissance drone at the Airshow China 2021 in Zhuhai, South China’s Guangdong Province, from September 28 to October 3. (Picture source: screenshot from China Central Television via Global Times).