Chinese WZ-10 UAV Intercepted For The First Time Over The East China Sea

The WZ-10 intercepted by Japanase fighters on May 27, 2024. (Image credit: Japan MOD)

A Chinese Wing Loong 10 UAV has been intercepted by the JASDF fighters for the first time.

On May 27, 2024, the JASDF (Japan Air Self-Defence Force) intercepted a Chinese WingLoong 10 UAV over the East China Sea. According to a statement by the Joint Staff of the Japanese Ground, Maritime, and Air Self-Defense Forces, this was the first time the type (referred to as WL-10, from WingLoong 10, by the Japanese MOD, but reportedly designated WZ-10 by the PLA) was monitored by Japanese fighters.

The close encounter with the WZ-10 is particularly interesting as very little has emerged so far about this unmanned aircraft: developed by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG), a subsidiary of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the WingLoong 10 is a HALE (High Altitude Long Endurange) drone with radar-evading features said to have a wingspan of around 20 meters (65 feet), a length of about 9 meters (29 feet), and a height of approximately 4 meters (13 feet). Its MTOW (Maximum Take Off Weight) is about 3,200 kilograms.

In terms of performance, the WZ-10 is believed to be able to operate as altitudes up to 49,000 feet with an endurance of 20 hours at a cruising speed of 330 knots.

The main mission of the Wing Loong-10 family of jet-powered UAVs is to serve as as an electronic warfare platform. In this respect, it’s not completely clear though its capabilities in the field of EW are actually more focused on the passive/gathering aspect and it is therefore more of an ELINT platform with ESM sensors than an unmanned aircraft with active/ECM capabilities. That being said it’s also important to highlight that the Wing Loong-10 UAVs and in particular its earlier prototypes have been on display at various airshows (including Dubai 2017) in configurations featuring up to six hardpoints, three on each wing, to mount weapons such as precision-guided bombs and air-to-surface missiles. This makes the WZ-10 and its various variants capable of conducting strike missions.

Anyway, the WZ-10 has reportedly entered service with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) quite recently.

Chinese military aviation researcher and expert Andreas Rupprecht says the type is in service with the 16th Specialised Division, 48th Air Regiment, most probably at Shangliao, with Foshan possibly used as a Forward Operating Base.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.