China is driving forward its unmanned air vehicle (UAV) developments and has revealed plans for unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs).

At the Zhuhai air show earlier this month, Guizhou Aircraft unveilled its stealthy WZ-2000 multi-role surveillance UAV. While stressing that the WZ-2000 is only a concept, Guizhou says the twin-jet delta platform UAV is 4.5m (15ft) long and has a 3m span. It will carry 20-55kg (45-120lb) payloads at 460kt (850km/h).

Guizhou says the UAV's size and payload - which will include future radar systems - could be configured to meet customer needs.

The largest UAV revealed at Zhuhai was a variant of the Chang Hong (a copy of the US Ryan Firebee), said to have been in production for two years. This variant has a new inertial navigation system with embedded GPS satellite positioning and can fly at 57,500ft (17,500m) for 2,500km (1,350nm).

The Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (BUAA) and the Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics took the wraps off two rotary-wing UAVs, the M-22and Soar Bird, respectively. The M-22 is a small circular air vehicle with contra-rotating rotor system, while the Soar Bird resembles the Hughes 500 helicopter. It weighs 280kg, carries a 30kg payload, flies at 80kt and has a 4h endurance.

China's future UCAV could emerge from BUAA's Advanced Simulation Technology Key Laboratory, which was displaying its new virtual reality flight training system. This features a simulated cockpit and flying environment projected into a helmet visor. It is slated to be slaved to a small, twin-camera equipped UAV. BUAA engineers say the system is in production to train Chengdu J-7 and Shenyang J-8 pilots.

The Nanjing Research Institute displayed: a 95kg W-50 with a 4-6h endurance; the smaller, 4h endurance, W-30; and the Z-2 helicopter and pulse-jet powered, 245kt, S-100 target drones. Beijing Wisewell Avionics revealed its 30kg surveillance UAV Shark-2 and the Merlin-2.

Source: Flight International