CATIC Unveils WL-X UAS Concept At Paris Air Show

CATIC new WL-X model
Credit: Mark Wagner/Aviation Images

LE BOURGET—China’s state-owned arms exporter on June 19 unveiled a new and more powerful variant of the Wing Loong series of medium-altitude, long-endurance uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) at the Paris Air Show here.

A one-tenth-scale model of the WL-X concept is being shown for the first time at the China National Aero-technology Import and Export Corporation’s (CATIC) booth.

In comparison to the 4.2-metric ton WL-2 UAS currently in service, the WL-X features a new, high-aspect-ratio wing, extended forward fuselage, a new turboshaft and significantly greater weapons-carrying capacity.

The features of the WL-X appear to correspond to the WL-3 concept that was unveiled at Airshow China last November. The WL-3 was listed with a 6.2-metric ton weight, with the capacity to carry up to 2.3 metric tons of weapons. The WL-3 also was described as having a 40-hr. endurance—25% better than the WL-2.

An official from CATIC at the booth confirms the WL-X concept is being shown in Paris for the first time, but says no further information is immediately available about the concept. Additional details may be released later in the week, however.

The scaled model of the WL-X reveals the new wing, with the tapered section starting further outboard than the WL-2. The longer inboard section with a greater width accommodates eight munitions on each wing, versus the provisions for five weapon stations on each wing of the WL-2.

To carry the heavier load, the WL-X features a new engine with a five-bladed propeller, which includes two more blades than the engine that powers the WL-2.

China has exported the WL-2 to at least seven countries.

Steve Trimble

Steve covers military aviation, missiles and space for the Aviation Week Network, based in Washington DC.