STATUS: Active, In-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) - China
OPERATORS: China; Egypt; Iraq; Saudi Arabia
LENGTH: 36.09 feet (11 meters)
WIDTH: 65.62 feet (20 meters)
HEIGHT: 12.47 feet (3.8 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 3,527 pounds (1,600 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 9,921 pounds (4,500 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x Conventional engine developing an estimated 900 horsepower and driving three-bladed propelled in pusher arrangement.
SPEED (MAX): 217 miles-per-hour (350 kilometers-per-hour; 189 knots)
RANGE: 1,709 miles (2,750 kilometers; 1,485 nautical miles)
CEILING: 47,375 feet (14,440 meters; 8.97 miles)
Detailing the development and operational history of the CASC CH-4 Rainbow Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV).
Entry last updated on 8/6/2018.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The CASC CH-4 is a dedicated Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) of Chinese origin. It is said to borrow heavily from the proven existing line of American MQ-9 Reaper UCAVs. Both are intended for the strike mission role through various precision-guided munitions and are designed to loiter over target areas for hours (the CH-4 sports a fourteen hour mission endurance window). Externally, comparisons to the American product are justifiable for the Chinese interpretation of the proven machine bears more than a passing resemblance to the MQ-9 right down to the outward-cranked tail fins (though there is no ventral fin), straight mainplane wings and fixed tricycle undercarriage - Chinese industry has not been shy in the past about copying foreign solutions to solve local problems.
The CH-4 is one of a long line of UAV products in the CASC "Rainbow" series of unmanned systems that include the CH-1, CH-2 and CH-3. Upon introduction, the CH-4 represented the largest of the Rainbow offerings and is currently marketed in two distinct forms: the "CH-4A" to be used primarily for reconnaissance and the "CH-4B" for the armed reconnaissance / general attack role.
As in the Reaper design, the CH-4 UCAV relies on a slender fuselage body containing the optics fit, avionics set, fuel stores and engine installation (the engine drives a similar three-bladed propeller unit at the rear of the fuselage in a "pusher" arrangement). At the "chin" position is a blister housing the sensor kit with both Infra-Red (IR) and daytime (with zoom) capabilities as well as a laser rangefinder. The armament loadout supports both modern Chinese Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs) as well as precision-guided drop bombs - up to 770lb of ordnance can be displayed across four to six total underwing hardpoints.
Currently (2017), the only known operators of the CH-4 are Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The Iraqi military has already put the CH-4 through its combat paces against ISIS forces while the Saudis have deployed some of their fleet against Houthi rebels in that ongoing war. CASC is in talks with the Saudi Kingdom to arrange for local production of several hundred CH-4 drones for the oil-rich nation.
The CH-5 represents a slightly more advanced version of the CH-4, first-flying in August of 2015. This product features improved performance specifications including greater endurance and altitude.
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Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.
Relative Maximum Speed Rating
This entry's maximum listed speed (217mph).
Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
Graph showcases the CASC CH-4 Rainbow's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units