Pow­er­ful drone ready for global mar­ket

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHAO LEI in Chengde, He­bei zhaolei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China is ready to mass-pro­duce the CH-5 re­con­nais­sance/ com­bat drone, the na­tion’s lat­est of­fer­ing to the in­ter­na­tional mil­i­tary drone mar­ket.

The first mass-pro­duc­tion CH-5 made its de­but flight, in which it was air­borne for more than 20 min­utes, at an air­port in He­bei prov­ince on Fri­day af­ter­noon.

Ou Zhong­ming, project man­ager of the Cai­hong, or Rain­bow, se­ries of drones at the China Academy of Aerospace Aero­dy­nam­ics in Beijing, said af­ter the test that sev­eral na­tions, in­clud­ing cur­rent users of other CH mod­els and new clients, are in talks with the academy on pro­cure­ment of the CH-5, which is be­lieved to be one of the best un­manned mil­i­tary air­craft in the world.

“To­day’s flight means the CH-5’s de­sign has been fi­nal­ized and we are ready to masspro­duce it,” he said, re­fus­ing to name po­ten­tial buy­ers.

The China Academy of Aerospace Aero­dy­nam­ics is the coun­try’s largest mil­i­tary drone ex­porter by the num­ber of prod­ucts sold over­seas. Its CH-se­ries drones have been sold to mil­i­taries in more than 10 coun­tries, mak­ing it the largest drone fam­ily the coun­try has ex­ported, ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics from the academy.

Shi Wen, chief de­signer of the CH se­ries, said the CH-5 out­per­forms all of its Chi­ne­se­made coun­ter­parts when it comes to op­er­a­tional en­durance and pay­load ca­pac­ity. The plane is as good as the US-made Gen­eral Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, a hunter-killer drone of­ten deemed by Western an­a­lysts as the best of its kind, he added.

The pro­to­type CH-5 was first flown in Au­gust 2015. The drone is made of com­pos­ite ma­te­ri­als and has a wing­span of 21 me­ters. Twice as big as its pre­de­ces­sors in the CH fam­ily, the drone can stay in the air for 60 hours, al­most three times that of other Chi­nese mod­els. Its max­i­mum op­er­a­tional range is de­signed at 10,000 kilo­me­ters, ac­cord­ing to Shi.

The drone’s 1-met­ric-ton pay­load ca­pac­ity en­ables it to bring as many as 24 mis­siles on a sin­gle mis­sion, strong enough to take out a con­voy of armored ve­hi­cles.

The un­manned air­craft is also able to carry an air­borne early warn­ing sys­tem to act as a plat­form for re­gional sur­veil­lance and bat­tle­field com­mand and con­trol. It also can carry elec­tronic war­fare in­stru­ments to col­lect elec­tronic in­tel­li­gence and to jam en­emy com­mu­ni­ca­tions or radar.

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