- CASC has showcased its latest and most capable armed reconnaissance UAV
- Designated the CH-5, the air vehicle is the company's largest unmanned platform to date, and can carry as many as 16 air-to-ground weapons
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) used Airshow China 2016, held in Zhuhai from 1-6 November, to show a prototype of its Cai Hong 5 (Rainbow 5, or CH-5) strike-capable unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to the public for the first time since its maiden flight in August 2015.
According to the latest specifications briefed to IHS Jane's by a senior CASC official on 6 November, the medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) CH-5 features a lightweight all-composite airframe structure that is 11 m long and has a wingspan of 21 m. The air vehicle has a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 3,300 kg and can carry a 1,200 kg payload, with an internal mission bay capacity of 200 kg and the remainder provisioned for underwing stores.
CASC has specified an operating range of up to 250 km via line-of-sight datalink, although this can be extended to 2,000 km when satellite communication (SATCOM) protocols are employed. It is also capable of autonomous flight using pre-programmed waypoint navigation, with taxiing, take-off, and landing manoeuvres also fully automated.
While the senior official cannot be identified due to strict media engagement policies, he nevertheless revealed that the CH-5 is equipped with a 330 hp heavy-fuel engine (HFE) that provides it with an operating endurance of up to 60 hours with high reliability, although this can be substituted with a 300 hp gasoline engine that offers up to 39 hours of endurance. Yan added that the HFE option enables the CH-5 to achieve a loiter speed of 180-220 km/h and a maximum speed in excess of 300 km/h, with a service ceiling of 30,000 ft (7,000 m).
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