WuZhen-5 Unmanned Reconnaissance Aerial Vehicle
The WuZhen-5 (WZ-5, also known as ChangHong-1) jet-powered unmanned reconnaissance aerial vehicle (URAV) was developed by Beijing Institute of Aeronautics (now Beijing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics, BUAA) based on the U.S. AQM-34N Firebee, but its ground control equipment is a Chinese indigenous design. The WZ-5 is China’s first operational URAV and entered service with the PLAAF in 1981. The improved variant WZ-5A was introduced in 1999. BUAA is currently developing a new model as the WZ-5's successor.
The PLA shot down several AQM-34N Firebee URAV operated by the U.S. Strategic Air Command during their missions over China mainland and North Vietnam in the 1960s. At least one Firebee was recovered by the PLA in relatively good conditions. The UAV was later carefully inspected by the Chinese engineers for possible reverse-engineering. In 1969 Beijing Institute of Aeronautics (now BUAA) took the lead to develop an indigenous optical-camera URAV based on the AQM-34N. The development programme consisted of three primary sub-systems: UAV airframe, WP-11 turbojet engine, and the ground control equipment.
Beijing Institute of Aeronautics (BIA) used parts recovered from the Firebee wreckages to assemble two prototypes for flight tests in 1972 and these flew successfully. An additional two prototypes using Chinese-made parts made their first flight successfully in 1976. BIA also set up a UAV design and research centre responsible for the development and manufacturing of the URAV. The Chinese-made Firebee known as WZ-5 passed its design certification test in 1978 and the URAV entered PLAAF service in 1981.
The WZ-5 was reported to have taken part in the China-Vietnam border conflict in the 1980s and played an important role in collecting valuable military intelligence. A total of nine examples were built. BUAA began to develop an improved variant possibly known as WZ-5A in 1995 and the URAV made its first flight in 1999. The WZ-5A is fitted with a combined inertial and GPS navigation system for improved accuracy.
The WZ-5 has mid-mounted, swept-back wings with angular tips. The engine is a bulging jet on the belly with an oval air intake and round exhaust. The fuselage is round and tapered front and rear with a pointed nose and tail cone and a belly fin. The tail flats are high-mounted, swept-back with a swept-back and tapered fin. The WZ-5 was originally carried by the modified Tu-4 Bull bomber, and later by the Shaanxi Aircraft Company Y-8E (An-12 Cub copy) turboprop transport.
During its mission, the WZ-5 UAV is first carried by its carrier aircraft to the target zone, and then released at the altitude between 4,000 and 5,000m. The UAV then automatically climb to its operational altitude of 17,500m. Once entering the target zone, the UAV flies under the autopilot, which is pre-programmed with flight parameters such as altitude, path, speed, duration and range. After completing its mission, the UAV returns to the recovering zone, and then was recovered by parachute under remote control.
The WZ-5 is fairly obsolete comparing to the modern Western-designed URAVs. It can only operate in day light period, and does not have the real-time datalink to transmit the imagery information to the ground. In addition, the WZ-5 can only fly according to the pre-programmed flight parameters, and cannot adjust its speed, altitude, and path according to the change of enemy air defence and weather. The ground control does not have any real-time control over the UAV.
The fuselage of the WZ-5 consists of six sections: the radar compartment, the camera compartment, the fuel tank, the engine compartment, the avionics compartment, and the parachute compartment. The UAV has five camera windows, and is fitted with day-light and infrared cameras for imagery intelligence (IMINT) missions. The aerial photos are stored on the films carried inside the UAV fuselage.
The WZ-5 is powered by a WP-11 turbojet, rated at 8.33kN dry.
Dimentions: Wingspan 9.76m; Length
8.97m; Height 2.18m
Weight: Empty 1,060kg; Maximum take-off 1,700kg; Mission equipment 65kg; Fuel 620kg
Speed: Max 800km/h (at 17,500m altitude)
Flight Endurance: 3 hous
Service Ceiling: 17,500m
Last update: 25 March 2007