Long-endurance drones set to patrol borders in Tibet, Xinjiang
PLA looks to deploy drones to replace troops who now patrol difficult terrain
The state-owned military-industrial conglomerate Aviation Industry Corporation of China unveiled a new reconnaissance drone series last month at the Zhuhai Airshow. But AVIC gave scant details about the specification and performance of the GJ-2 drones.
Now it has been reported by the Global Times that the GJ-2 can cruise at a top speed of 370km/h while at an altitude of 9,000 meters, and can remain airborne for as long as 20 hours thanks to its long-endurance turboprop engine.
Reportedly a GJ-2 prototype flew over the 8,848-meter Mount Everest during one trial flight.
The drone has six weapon bays under its wings, capable of carrying more ordnance than its predecessors, including up to 12 air-to-surface missiles, according to the newspaper.
The GJ-2 is also equipped with a reconnaissance system, including a synthetic aperture radar as well as an electro-optical pod for anti-jamming and battlefield communication.
Media reports said the GJ-2 was the military version of the Wing Loong-2, AVIC’s latest drone primarily made for export.
China has a meandering, 22,117km border, of which a significant portion zigzags through mountainous terrain in the alpine Tibet and arid Xinjiang provinces, where troop patrols are risky and inefficient. The GJ-2 could thus boost China’s border-patrol and counterterrorism capabilities.
Chinese analysts say the GJ-2 can give the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper drones now in service with the US Air Force a good run for their money, thanks to the extensive use of composite materials on the Chinese drone.
The MQ-9 is the first hunter-killer unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance.