Chinese publication compares Wing Loong-1E drone to American gray eagle

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China’s new Wing Loong-1E armed drone was on display at the Singapore Airshow this week after making its first flight in 2021.

The Wing Loong-1E is a new addition to the family of Wing Loong drones built by state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China.

“The Wing Loong-1E still stands out as a Wing Loong-1 drone, but it has made some aerodynamic design changes, including adding upward-pointing fins to the tips of the main wings like a Wing Loong- 2,” one story said. in the Chinese government-backed Global Times newspaper.

In an apparent effort to lighten the weight of the drone and increase speed and endurance, Chinese developers are building the new drone almost entirely with composite materials.

“By using composite materials for the entire aircraft, which is state-of-the-art technology, the drone is to be lighter and sturdier than the original Wing Loong-1, and it will likely benefit from longer range and longer endurance as well as higher efficiency and reliability,” says Global Times.

The Global Times compares the Wing Loong-1E to the MQ-1C Gray Eagle operated by the US military.

The Gray Eagle can perform aerial surveillance missions as well as armed attacks. It operates electro-optical and infrared sensors, synthetic aperture radar and can carry four Hellfire missiles.

Unlike its predecessor, the MQ-1 Predator, the Gray Eagle relies on a heavy fuel engine to deliver increased power and better fuel efficiency.

In terms of external configuration, the new Chinese drone shares a resemblance with the Gray Eagle. However, despite its outward appearance, there is little information about the types of sensors working on the new Chinese drone.

These capabilities of the Wing Loong-1E would determine whether it can compete with the Gray Eagle. A difference in computing and data processing could mean it performs less well than the US drone.

Kris Osborn is the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a highly trained expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. Osborn also worked as an on-air military anchor and specialist on national television networks. He has appeared as a guest military pundit on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also holds an MA in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

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