China has conducted the maiden flight of WJ-700, a high altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle earlier this week, according to China Military Online.
The drone developed by the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), took to the skies on the morning of January 11, and successfully completed all intended objectives for the first flight.
“The maiden flight test, which took place early Monday morning, verified the correctness and feasibility of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) system, laying the foundation for future production of the model,” sources told the Chinese state-run Global Times.
It said the WJ-700 is a ‘rare type’ of drone, integrating the characteristics of high altitude long-range drone capable of conducting both surveillance and strike missions.
According to independent analysts, the UAV has four underwing hardpoints and can carry CM-102 anti-radiation missile, C-701, and C-705KD anti-ship missiles, along with land-attack munitions. Air-to-air munitions give the drone a versatile mission profile, an important multirole ability to the Chinese forces.
Compared to other UAVs in its type, the WJ-700 is significantly larger enabling it to carry a better payload complement. Key tactical and even strategic battlefield hubs, including radar installations, warships, and command centers could be targets of the WJ-700, the analysts said.
The drone made its first appearance as a prototype at Airshow China 2018 and would be inducted into service after various system-level tests and verifications. While its technical specifications remain classified much like other Chinese equipment, the drone’s poster during the Airshow 2018 mentioned its maximum takeoff weight to be around 3.5 tons (3,500 kilograms) and endurance of 20 hours.
It is the latest in CASIC’s WJ-series, a family of drones starting from WJ-010 (development of the unarmed CASIC HW-100 Sparrowhawk), WJ-100 ‘Blade’ (twin-boom layout with high wing configuration and tricycle landing gear), WJ-500 (jet-powered UAV intended for various missions, such as targeting, reconnaissance, target damage assessment, and simulation of cruise missiles and aircraft), to WJ-600 (incorporating both the reconnaissance and ground attack capability).