WEAPONS TRANSFERRED TO THE HOUTHI MILITIA AND EMPLOYED IN THE CONFLICT IN YEMEN (2015-ongoing)
Wing Loong I
|WEAPON NAME||CAIG Wing Loong I UAV|
The CAIG Wing Loong I is a Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance unmanned aerial vehicle, developed by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group in the People’s Republic of China. Wing Loong 1 experienced its first flight in 2009 and has been serving in the Chinese military since 2011. The UAV is developed primarily for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force and is intended for surveillance and aerial reconnaissance missions. → english.iswnews.com
Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group, Chengdu, Sichuan, CHINA → cac.avic.com
China National Aero Technology Import & Export Corp is managing exportation of Pterodactyl UAV and 100 exported as of late 2018. Since 2011, China has also sold the Wing Loong to several countries in Africa and the Middle East, including Nigeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, at an estimated $1 million per unit.
Despite strong sales, however, there are questions about the quality of Chinese systems. One area of weakness lies in turboprop engines – engines are a persistent problem with Chinese-produced aircraft. This shows up in performance. The MQ-9B Reaper, for example, has published service ceiling of 49,000ft, while that for the Wing Loong II is 29,500ft. The Reaper is also faster, with a top speed of 260kt (480km/h), compared with 199kt for the Chinese aircraft. A Wing Loong II likely costs a fraction of an MQ-9B. A ChinaPower report on Chinese UAV technologies indicates that a Wing Loong II likely costs $1-2 million, compared with $16 million for the Reaper. Experts also question the datalinks of Chinese systems, suggesting that they are not as robust as those available for similar western platforms.
Transfer of Wing Loong from China to Saudi Arabia
Transfer of Wing Loong from China to United Arab Emirates
While nations in the Gulf are focusing on the acquisition of fighter fleets, Middle Eastern nations are looking towards a mix of U.S., Russian and Chinese suppliers of drones. Chinese UAVs are increasingly advancing to be more than the reverse-engineered versions of U.S. and Israeli UAVs that they were once deemed to be, and while they may not be of quite the same sophistication as these other systems, the selling point is that China will readily export this technology with few qualms over the way they will ultimately be operated. AVIC’s Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group has delivered the Wing Loong I to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, while the former was also reportedly the launch customer for the upgraded Wing Loong II version.
|IDENTIFICATION||Yemen’s Houthi detain crashed Saudi UAV Wing Loong (Dec. 1, 2019)|
|GEOLOCATION||Hayran District, Hajjah Governorate, Yemen → 16°16’13”N 43°6’21”E|