The China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA), the flight technology development arm of the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), has developed an improved version of its Cai Hong 804C (Rainbow 804C, or CH-804C) hybrid fixed-wing/vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
The updated air vehicle features a redesigned composite airframe with an increased wingspan of 4.25 m, a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 30 kg, and a payload capacity of 4 kg. In contrast, the earlier model had a MTOW of 25 kg with a 4 m wingspan, and could only carry a 3 kg payload.
According to specifications viewed by Jane’s, the primary payload of the CH-804C comprises a belly-mounted 2.5 kg optically stabilised electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) ball turret with a daylight channel providing wide and narrow fields-of-view (FoV) of 46°x34.5° and 4.6°x3.45°, respectively.
It is stated to be capable of detecting a tank-sized object at a maximum range of 2 km and identifying it at distances of up to 1.5 km. The IR channel is equipped with a 640x512 pixel resolution and 13.9°x11.2° FoV focal plane array, and has a claimed detection and recognition range of 1.5 km and 1 km respectively.
CAAA engineers have also boosted the CH-804C’s flight endurance to four hours, a 33% improvement over the earlier model. The air vehicle is equipped with an L-band datalink that enables it to transmit and receive data within a 100 km line-of-sight distance, supporting a data transfer rate of up to 25.6 kbps for telemetry and 4 Mbps for imagery.
The CH-804C also employs a dual global positioning system (GPS) receiver suite that offers redundancy in the event of signal loss in one of the GPS modules, and also enables GPS differential computation for improved positional and hover accuracy. This also reduces the reliance on its inertial navigation system (INS), which can be degraded by interference from power transmission lines as well as environments with strong electromagnetic fields during low-level flight.
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