SOFEX 2016

Chinese UAV gains hold in Middle East [SOFEX16D2]

11 May 2016

Chinese unmanned air vehicle technology has made significant strides in recent times, as evidenced by the adoption by a number of Middle East nations of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) CH-4B medium-altitude long-endurance UAV. The vehicle is being presented here in model form by China Aerospace Long- March International (Hall 3, Stand B301).

Iraq has acquired armed CH-4Bs for its army aviation, and the type undertook its first combat firing during anti-Daesh operations on 10 October last year. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are also reported to have bought the type, as has at least one other country in the Middle East.

CH-4Bs have been used in action against Daesh forces and Chinese UAV gains hold in Middle East rebels in Yemen. It has been suggested that the CH-4B has been acquired as a means of rapidly procuring armed UAVs in the face of delays in obtaining export clearance for comparable US systems.

Developed by the 701st Research Institute/China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics, the CH-4 is a member of the Cai Hong (rainbow) family of UAVs. The CH-4A is an unarmed reconnaissance platform, broadly equivalent to the US Predator, while the CH-4B has weapons capability. This variant has been in Chinese service since at least 2014.

Equipped with a semi-retractable electro-optic turret and synthetic aperture radar, the CH-4B has four underwing pylons, able to mount up to 345kg of stores. Weapons seen so far include the AR-1 laser-guided missile, of which up to six can be carried, and the FT-9 50kg GPS-guided bomb.

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