On July 1, Harry Boone, a defense observer, shared a photo showing a suspected, fully armed UAE unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) flying over Libya.
The UCAV seen in the photo was identified as CAIG’s Wing Loong II, which has an endurance of more than 20 hours. The UAE was the launch customer for the Chinese UCAV in 2017.
…UAE’ Wing Loong over Libya ? pic.twitter.com/SlhzbPn669
— Harry Boone (@towersight) July 1, 2019
Wing Loong II can carry up to up to twelve air-to-surface guided missiles. The UCAV in the photo was armed with what appear to be eight LJ-7 guided missiles. The LJ-7 is the export version of the semi-active laser guided HJ-10 missile. The missile has a range of up to 7km and its warhead is capable of penetrating 1,400mm of armour.
Las April, defense analyst Arnaud Delalande published an investigation proving that LJ-7 missiles were used against forces loyal to the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA). Back then, several observers speculated that the UAE was behind the airstrikes.
— Arnaud Delalande (@Arn_Del) April 29, 2019
The UAE has a large presence in the al-Khadim airbase in western Libya. A report of IHS Jane’s, released three years ago, revealed that the airbase is hosting six IOMAX AT-802i BPA light attack and recommission warplanes, two Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and last but not least two Wing Loong I\II UCAVs.
Boone’s photo confirms that Wing Loong II UCAVs are active over Libya. While there is still no evidence confirming that the UAE is indeed the operator, it remains the main suspect.