The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force will for the first time display the WZ-7 high-altitude reconnaissance drone at the Airshow China 2021, to be held in Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong Province, from September 28 to October 3, a spokesperson at the PLA Air Force announced on Friday.
As one of China's largest drones, the WZ-7 will be deployed in missions that require extended endurance like border reconnaissance and maritime patrol, experts said.
Revealing the lineup for the exhibition, Senior Colonel Shen Jinke, spokesperson at the PLA Air Force, said that the J-20 stealth fighter jet and Y-20 large transport aircraft will join the event, the KJ-500 early warning aircraft and the H-6K bomber will be put on static display, and the J-16D electronic warfare aircraft and the WZ-7 reconnaissance drone will make their public debuts, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Friday.
Domestically developed and produced by China, the WZ-7 is a high-altitude reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle designed to conduct missions including border reconnaissance and maritime patrol, CCTV said.
Featuring a tandem-wing design and being large in size, the WZ-7 has a long endurance, which makes completing its intended missions possible, a Chinese military expert told the Global Times on Friday, requesting anonymity.
The drone's official designation is now confirmed as the WZ-7, and the PLA Air Force is presenting it to the general public at the air show indicating that it has entered service with the PLA Air Force, the expert said, noting that it was previously known by its codename, the Soar Dragon.
The other new face at the Airshow China is the J-16D, which is a new-type electronic warfare aircraft capable of reconnaissance, attack and defense, CCTV reported, noting that it was developed based on the J-16 fighter jet.
Shen said that the J-16D has entered combat-scenario exercises, and this has further enhanced the PLA Air Force's electronic warfare attack capabilities, which expands the scope of combat and contributes to the strategic transformation of the Air Force.
Electronic warfare aircraft can accompany other warplanes and provide them with electronic warfare support, for example, conducting electronic jamming or deception, or they can also launch direct attacks on hostile radar installations or early warning aircraft, Wang Ya'nan, chief editor of Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times.
The J-20 stealth fighter jet and the JL-10 advanced trainer jet will put on flight performances at the air show, CCTV reported.
The appearance of the J-20 at the exhibition will demonstrate the aircraft's continued improvement in its capabilities to carry out its duties and missions, CCTV said.
Two of the PLA Air Force's major aerobatic teams, the August 1 Aerobatic Team and the Red Eagle Aerobatic Team from the PLA Air Force Aviation University, will also give performances with J-10 fighter jets and K-8 trainer jets, respectively.
The PLA Air Force will display its new achievements in pushing for strategic transform and on its strides to become world-class, showing the value pursuit, development concept and historical heritage as the air force of a major power, Shen said.
"[We will] let the people have confidence in the Air Force, and let the airmen have confidence in themselves," Shen said.