China’s new WJ-700 high-altitude, long-endurance and high-speed armed reconnaissance drone successfully completed its maiden flight earlier this week.
The “rare type” drone is capable of executing both attack and reconnaissance missions in China, according to a statement the Third Academy of the state-owned arms firm China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC) sent to the Global Times.
First unveiled at Airshow China in 2018, the WJ-700 is expected to have a maximum take-off weight of 3,500 kg, with a maximum endurance of 20 hours.
It is capable of performing air-to-surface precision strikes in multiple situations such as stand-off ground attacks, anti-ship, and anti-radiation attacks, the statement said, noting that it will “create a new pattern for drone combat.”
China wants to begin selling the drones to domestic and international market needs in the next five to 10 years.
Compared to other popular drones, the distinguishing characteristic of the WJ-700 is its large size, meaning it has an outstanding payload capacity that allows it to carry larger munitions like anti-ship missiles and stand-off weapons that enable the drone to launch attacks from outside of an enemy anti-aircraft fire coverage zone, Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert, said.
Key tactical and even strategic battlefield hubs, including radar installations, warships and command centers could be targets of the WJ-700, analysts said.
The WJ-700 could deliver diverse combat missions in high-threat battlefield environments with its precision combat and wide-area reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities. After completing various system-level tests and verifications, it will be officially put into combat applications, the academy said.