The export version of China’s CH-5 drone, considered a competitor to the US-made MQ-9 Reaper, completed its trial flight Saturday making it ready for mass production and international sales.
The long endurance drone, said to be one of the world’s most powerful unmanned aerial vehicles, was airborne for more than 20 minutes, at an airport in Hebei province on Friday afternoon, Xinhua and other Chinese media reported.
Quoting Ou Zhongming, project manager of the Caihong (Rainbow), series of drones at the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA) in Beijing, the reports said "today's flight means the CH-5's design has been finalized and we are ready to mass-produce it."
Also quoting Shi Wen, chief designer of the CH series, the reports said the CH-5 outperforms all of its Chinese-made counterparts when it comes to operational endurance and payload capacity. The drone is as good as the US-made General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, a hunter-killer drone credited with shooting down a number of terrorist targets in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Having a wingspan of 21 meters, the CH-5 can stay in the air for 60 hours and has a maximum operational ceiling of 10,000 meters.
The drone's 1-metric-ton payload capacity enables it to accommodate up to 24 air-to-ground missiles on a single mission. Its payload options include an airborne early warning system to act as a platform for surveillance and battlefield command and control. It also can carry electronic warfare instruments to collect electronic intelligence and to jam enemy communications or radar. The versatile drone’s other applications are in anti-submarine operations.
Unveiled at an air show in China just last year the drone is said to have received pre-order from several Middle-east and Asian customers.