Saudi Arabia has signed an agreement to purchase China’s Wing Loong medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle, otherwise known as the Pterodactyl I, reports Huanqiu, the website of China’s nationalistic tabloid Global Times.
Citing Russian military news, the Global Times said Saudi crown prince Salman sealed the deal with People’s Liberation Army general Wang Guanzhong during a visit to China in mid-April, making Saudi Arabia the first Arab country to acquire the drone.
It is not clear how many units were ordered, though the Chinese drones are said to be designed along the lines of the MQ-1 Predator of the United States, with surveillance capabilities and the ability to carry two matched air-to-surface missiles.
The Wing Loong was developed by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group. According to the statement released by the company last year, the drone has already been sold to four foreign countries, including an unnamed county in Central Asia, with a series of negotiations still ongoing with other potential clients.
The Chengdu Pterodactyl I (Chinese: 翼龙-1; pinyin: Yìlóng-) also known as Wing Loong is a Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), developed by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group in the People’s Republic of China. Intended for use as a surveillance and aerial reconnaissance platform, the Pterodactyl I is capable of being fitted with air-to-surface weapons for use in an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) role
Developed by the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute (CADI), a division of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC),the Pterodactyl I bears a distinct similarity in appearance to the Predator/Reaper family of drones developed by the United States. The drone is capable of being fitted with a variety of sensors, including a forward looking infrared turret and synthetic aperture radar. In addition, the aircraft is capable of carrying weapons.The Pterodactyl I’s total payload capacity for sensors and weapons is 200 kilograms (440 lb).
A model of the Pterodactyl I was displayed at the 2010 China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition at Zhuhai, the first public acknowledgment of the program;however, it was claimed by AVIC that the aircraft had been displayed at the 2008 airshow.The aircraft has been approved for export by Chinese authorities; the Pterodactyl I was evaluated by Pakistan, but was not selected for procurement.
One example of the type was known to have been lost in an accident during 2011,