Home Aircraft / Aviation Naval Warfare Land Systems Small Arms

CASC CH-4 Rainbow

Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV)

The CASC CH-4 Rainbow UCAV borrows heavily from the American MQ-9 Reaper UCAV drone series.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 11/18/2019
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.

Program Updates

November 2019 - Jordan has placed its fleet of six CH-4 Rainbow UAVs for international sale citing less-than-desirable performance.


Active, In-Service
[ 500 Units ] :
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) - China
National flag of China National flag of Egypt National flag of Iraq National flag of Jordan National flag of Saudi Arabia China; Egypt; Iraq; Jordan; Saudi Arabia
- Ground Attack
- Reconnaissance (RECCE)
- Unmanned
36.09 ft (11 m)
65.62 ft (20 m)
12.47 ft (3.8 m)
(Showcased structural dimension values pertain to the CASC CH-4 Rainbow production model)
Empty Weight:
3,527 lb (1,600 kg)
9,921 lb (4,500 kg)
(Diff: +6,393lb)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the CASC CH-4 Rainbow production model)
1 x Conventional engine developing an estimated 900 horsepower and driving three-bladed propelled in pusher arrangement.
(Showcased powerplant information pertains to the CASC CH-4 Rainbow production model)
Maximum Speed:
217 mph (350 kph; 189 kts)
Service Ceiling:
47,375 feet (14,440 m; 8.97 miles)
Maximum Range:
1,709 miles (2,750 km; 1,485 nm)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the CASC CH-4 Rainbow production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
Four to six underwing hardpoints for the carrying of anti-tank / air-to-surface guided-missiles and precision-guided / conventional drop bombs / ordnance. Mission payload of up 770lb.
(Showcased armament details pertain to the CASC CH-4 Rainbow production model)
CH-4 "Rainbow" - Base Series Designation

Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com.

Part of a network of sites that includes AnvilOfWar.com, GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, and WDMMA.org, the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft.

www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-