BEIJING: China has displayed its strongest combat and reconnaissance drone in a bid to look for export markets for it after the unmanned aerial vehicle that can fly with a weight of 3,000 kg made its first flight this year.
Chinese military displayed the CH-5 combat and reconnaissance drone, developed by China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics under China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp at Shenzhen in Guangdong province, yesterday in an attempt to attract more buyers for its combat drones.
The CH-5 made its first flight in August, becoming the heaviest and strongest military drone in China, state-run China Daily reported. Compared with other military drones that usually have a maximum take-off weight of less than 1,500 kg, the CH-5 is much more powerful and is able to fly with a weight of 3,000 kg and carry 900 kg of equipment and weapons, according to engineers at the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics.
"The larger carrying capacity enables the CH-5 to have more reconnaissance equipment so it can detect any given target within a radius of 80 km," said Lan Wenbo, a chief engineer of the aircraft at the academy.
Ou Zhongming, head of the unmanned aircraft project at the academy, said the CH-5 is large enough to host an advanced radar that can penetrate thick walls or cave to find out terrorists hiding there. Currently, ground control operators need to transfer such information to drones before launching a strike, he said. Considering the unspoken rule in China's defence sector that it never publicly shows advanced weapons solely designed for the People's Liberation Army, the public debut of CH-5 at the China (Shenzhen) International Unmanned Vehicle Systems Trade Fair shows China is eager to sell it, the report said.
"We have sold the CH-3 to several foreign nations and now we plan to launch the export version of the CH-5 to the international market. It can perform air-to-ground strike, reconnaissance and transport operations," Shi Wen, chief designer of the CH series at the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics, said.
Shi did not disclose which countries have introduced the CH series, but earlier reports quoted Vasily Kashin, a senior analyst with the Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, as saying that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iraq have deployed drones from the CH family.