MANUFACTURER(S): Chinese Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) - China
OPERATORS: China (probable)
LENGTH: 32.81 feet (10 meters)
WIDTH: 72.01 feet (21.95 meters)
HEIGHT: 10.50 feet (3.2 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 14,330 pounds (6,500 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 27,007 pounds (12,250 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x Turbofan engine of unknown make, model, and thrust output.
SPEED (MAX): 550 miles-per-hour (885 kilometers-per-hour; 478 knots)
RANGE: 2,175 miles (3,500 kilometers; 1,890 nautical miles)
CEILING: 32,808 feet (10,000 meters; 6.21 miles)
Detailing the development and operational history of the CASC CH-7 High-Altitude, Long-Endurance (HALE) Stealth Combat Drone.
Entry last updated on 12/26/2018.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
At Zhuhai Air Show 2018, CASC ("Chinese Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation") unveiled a subscale model of its in-development "CH-7" stealth combat drone with a focus on direct-attack of enemy Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C/AWACS) platforms at range through internally-held missiles. The aircraft is a private-venture initiative by the company, who is primarily associated with Chinese space endeavors, and represents a significant evolution of Chinese UAV prowess, particularly concerning flying-wing design as this type of aircraft typically presents a slew of aerodynamic and control challenges for engineers.
The CH-7 certainly shares an appearance akin to several Western all-wing UAV designs, namely the Northrop Grumman X-47B carrier-based drone (detailed elsewhere on this site). The air vehicle sports a "cranked-kite" shape an uses no vertical planes of any kind. It is assumed to carry a single turbofan engine of unknown, model , and output buried within the center-section of the fuselage. Aspiration for this unit is through a dorsal-mounted opening and exhaust is through a port at the rear of the fuselage. A retractable tricycle undercarriage is used for ground-running. Despite its advertised "stealthiness", the aircraft will rely more on onboard equipment to achieve invisibility as opposed to specialized design and skin coatings. Structurally, the CH-7 has an overall length of 33 feet, a wingspan measuring 72 feet, and a gross weight in the 28,500lb range. A selection of powerplant has not yet taken place (2018).
In the Chinese scenario, this stealth aircraft would be able to penetrate enemy airspace unmolested and engage opposing AWACS platforms by launching Anti-Radiation Missiles (ARMs) at the target. Several CH-7s could also work in conjunction to designate targets or surveillance / reconnaissance sorties (by replacing the armament load out with specialized mission equipment). Beyond this, the CH-7 would have the same capability to engage ground-based radar facilities with equal lethality. The UAV would also have secure inter-formation communications to provide data and target information to accompanying manned aircraft carrying more considerable war loads. Other sortie types for this vehicle would also include anti-ship and delivery of precision-guided drop bombs.
A flyable prototype is hoped for as early as 2020-2021 with extensive flight-testing to follow throughout the next decade. Serial production is rather optimistically planned for 2022 with the potential for export sales as well. The general nonrestrictive approach of Chinese technology places China at the head of a potentially lucrative global UAV market in the coming decade - one in which the United States and Israel generally dominate but restrict sales to certain parts of the world and certain customers (mainly the Middle East).
Some of the structural measurements and performance specifications found on this page are estimated on the part of the author.
November 2018 - CASC displayed a flyable version of its CH-7 at the Zhuhai Air Show.
December 2018 - The CASC CH-7 is slated to fly for the first time in 2019 and enter operational service sometime in 2022.
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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 (550mph).
Graph average of 562.5 miles-per-hour.
Graph showcases the CASC CH-7'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