While the appearance of a mock-up of the Cloud Shadow UAV on the outdoor static display has grabbed a lot of attention at the Dubai Airshow, just as fascinating is a PowerPoint presentation that has been playing on AVIC's stand. In it, the Chinese manufacturer is presenting an end-to-end unmanned aircraft capability set, encompassing a range of airframes and payloads with complementary capabilities and a ground-control station (GCS).

These are all integrated into a holistic concept of operations that will look very familiar to anyone who has seen a presentation by western militaries on layered ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance) capabilities. The company calls this the AVIC Total UAS Solution: all parts of it are made in China and are available for export.

At the tactical end of the Solution are two small RPAS, the A-Hawk I and A-Hawk II. Models of both are on display at the stand.

The A-Hawk I is an octocopter with a claimed 65kg payload that can be used for package delivery and surveillance. It has a 30min flight time and a ceiling of 3,000m. The larger A-Hawk II has four belt-driven ducted rotors with a claimed endurance of up to four hours, with flight possible up to 5,000m and a payload limit of 120kg. The system has its own, company-developed, flight control software and GCS.

AVIC is positioning the A-Hawk II as a weapons platform. The model is fitted with two small missiles and a product card lists "Anti-terrorism: attacking terrorists and their bases" and "Military attacking" as its primary missions, with firefighting and cargo transportation roles also touted.

The next layer of ISTAR is provided by the Wing Loong family of aircraft, which perform a function similar to the General Atomics Predator and Reaper.

The long-established Wing Loong I, which has been sold to countries including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, can carry two laser-guided missiles as well as a range of ISTAR payloads (AVIC literature includes mention of an AIS - Automatic Identification System - payload, as well as ELINT, COMINT and radar jammer options). The presentation gives a first-flight date for the Wing Loong I of October 30, 2007 - the date had previously been reported as two years later.

The larger Wing Loong II, which first flew on February 27th this year, is shown carrying 12 weapons on six hardpoints. These include the 50kg BA-7 guided missile and LS-6 precision-guided glide bomb. Videos showed apparently successful engagement of ground targets.

The platform carries a SAR/GMTI (synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indicator) radar. According to the presentation, the platform's EO sensor is slaved by the SAR, which would enable the system to automatically assist an operator to positively identify a target.

At the higher altitude part of the Total UAS Solution portfolio sits the Cloud Shadow family of aircraft. AVIC says the type first flew on May 16, 2016, but does not specify which variant. There are three configurations of the platform currently promoted: imagery reconnaissance (designated CS-1), electronic reconnaissance (CS-2), and reconnaissance-strike (CS-3). Each is based on the WP-11C turbojet engine.

The first two have an internal 200kg payload capacity while the CS-3 boasts an external payload of double that, spread across four pylons. According to the presentation, a full load-out would consist of a single FT-7A - perhaps a variant of the FT-7 100kg range-extended, precision-guided bomb - and a pair of LS-6/50s, the 50kg version of the LS-6 bomb which Australian defense think-tank Air Power Australia described, in a 2009 report, as analogous to the U.S.'s small diameter bomb.

The CS-2 features a pair of ELINT and COMINT panel sensors in a fairing below the nose. AVIC claims a frequency range of 0.8-18GHz at up to 400km for the former and 0.1-2GHz at up to 200km for the latter. The CS-1 carries SAR and LOROP (long range oblique photographic) sensors. An operational concept image in the presentation shows the aircraft flying 12-18 km inside the boundary with hostile airspace, and with effective ranges for the LOROP of 68 km beyond the line, and 70km for the SAR.

The booth also features a full-size demonstrator version of AVIC's GCS. This can be provided in fixed, vehicle-mounted or portable configurations, and features six user-defined touchscreen displays, a QWERTY keyboard with separate numerical keypad, and two joysticks. This can be used to control both the Wing Loong and Cloud Shadow aircraft.

The company also provides datalinks. These include a C/UHF-band line-of-sight link, Ku-, Ka- and S-band satellite links, an L-band miniature link for the A-Hawks, and all associated ground terminals.