Air Platforms

China's CH-4 armed reconnaissance UAV receives upgrades

04 August 2017
An upgraded CH-4 reconnaissance/strike unmanned aerial vehicle, which can be identified by a more pronounced bulged nose section, being readied for a live-fire test with AR-1 and AR-2 anti-armour missiles at an undisclosed facility in northwest China. Source: IHS Markit/Kelvin Wong

Chinese defence firm China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has incorporated a number of enhancements to its Cai Hong 4 (Rainbow 4, or CH-4) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that are now fully validated and available as options in its export product portfolio, Jane's has learned during a demonstration in northwest China in late July.

The CH-4 is a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE)-class, strike-capable reconnaissance platform that has been developed by the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA), and is in service with a number of military forces in Central Asia and the Middle East.

According to the latest official specifications provided by CAAA, the CH-4 has a maximum take-off weight of 1,330 kg and a payload capacity of 345 kg. Glass fibre-based composite materials are used extensively to construct the 8.5 m-long main body and 18 m span wings, reducing the overall weight of the air vehicle as well as its radar cross-section (RCS).

Jane's understands that the CH-4 is presently powered by a 100 hp-class piston engine, which drives a three-bladed variable pitch pusher propeller and enables the air vehicle to achieve cruise and maximum speeds of up to 180 km/h and 235 km/h respectively, with a maximum endurance of up to 40 hours. It typically performs its missions at altitudes of 3,000–5,000 m (9,842–19,685 ft), although it is capable of operating up to a service ceiling of 7,200 m.

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