The armed drones will enhance Pakistan’s surveillance and strike capabilities

China will sell 48 advanced armed drones to Pakistan. Called the Wing Loong II, the drone can be used for both combat and surveillance missions. Although details of when and deal price is not clear, the drones will enhance Pakistan’s capabilities in the backdrop of India signing a deal with Russia for the S-400 missile defence system. 

What Is Wing Loong II? 

The Wing Loong II is an improved version of the Wing Loong 1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. Falling in the category of Medium Altitude Long Endurance, it is manufactured by the Chengdu Aircraft Industrial (Group) Company. The UAV has been developed primarily for People’s Liberation Army Air Force and export. The concept of the Wing Loong II was unveiled at the Aviation Expo China in Beijing in September 2015.

What Are Its Capabilities? 

Having a length of 11 m and wingspan of 20.5 m, the Wing Loong II can carry bombs and air-to-surface missiles. It can carry 480 kg of munitions. It can fly for around 20 hours and has a maximum speed of 370 km per hour. It is also integrated with day and infrared cameras and sensors to collect surveillance and targeting data. The UAV is remotely controlled from the mobile ground station. 

When is Pakistan Acquiring? 

Pakistan acquiring the drones was announced by its air force’s Sherdils Aerobatic Team on its official Facebook page on Sunday. But details on deal price, when it was struck or when the Wing Loong IIs will be delivered is not clear. The aerobatics team also announced that Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Kamra and Aviation Industry Corporation of China’s Chengdu Aircraft Industrial (Group) Company will jointly manufacture the drones in the future. 

What Does This Mean For India?

China is the largest supplier of military equipment to Pakistan. A deal providing 48 Wing Loong IIs could be China’s largest export order for drones. The addition of the armed drones to Pakistan’s arsenal will definitely enhance its surveillance and strike capabilities, especially along the border with India. However, India which currently does not have armed drones, signed a deal worth $5.43 billion with Russia for the S-400 air defence system last week. The system can engage all types of aerial targets, including drones, within a range of 400 km.