Pakistan will buy 48 Chinese Wing Loong II reconnaissance and strike medium altitude, long endurance (MALE) drones in the largest such arms deal of its kind between the two countries.
Reports in the Chinese media attributed the information about the sale to a posting on the official Facebook account of the Pakistan Air Force's Sherdils Aerobatic Team on Sunday without giving out information about the value of the deal.
Significantly, the posting stated that the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China's Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Company will jointly manufacture the drones.
Wing Loong II, made by Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Company had marked its maiden flight in February last year, the Xinhua News Agency reported. The Wing Loong II has also been sold to several unspecified buyers, including the UAE and Uzbekistan.
China has made a huge success of its drone exports going by its mantra of affordability and high quality. Chinese UAVs like Caihong series have earlier been sold to Iraq and Saudi Arabia and to unspecified countries in Asia and Africa.
China’s drone exports capitalize on the United States’ policy of limiting the export of such drones to close allies. However, the Trump administration has liberalized the export policy for high-end drones such as the Predator and Reaper. Nevertheless, some restrictions still remain applied on a case-by-case-basis.
The Wing Loong II UAV has a maximum payload capacity of 400 kg. Each wing incorporates three hardpoints able to carry bombs, rockets or air-to-surface missiles. A satellite communications antenna is mounted on the bulge at the top front surface of the fuselage. The Wing Loong II has a length of 11 meters, a wingspan of 20.5 meters and a height of 4.1 meters.