China’s CH-4 UAV with its own heavy-fuel engine has flown

BEIJING ($1=6.79 Chinese Yuans) — China has conducted a test flight [Wednesday, August 17] of its CH-4 reconnaissance drone, the Global Times website reports. The drone was powered by a Chinese-developed engine, Chinese media said. According to them, this allows the CH-4 to fly at a higher altitude and for a longer period. The engine is powered by heavy fuel.

China's CH-4 UAV with its own heavy-fuel engine has flown
Photo credit: Global Times

Shi Wen, chief engineer of the CH series drone says that the research tests have passed when testing autonomous take-off and landing. The tests also included cargo transportation, maximum height, and the field from one point to another. Tests have shown low engine fuel consumption in long-distance flights. However, the distance is not mentioned.

“With the new heavy-fuel aviation engine, the drone can stay in the sky significantly longer, fly farther and reach higher cruising altitudes and ceilings. Payload capacity has also increased by 30 to 50 percent,” Shi said.

According to our known technical characteristics, the CH-4 can fly at a cruising speed of up to 180 km/h. This is a relatively average speed for the CH family, as China has versions that fly at much higher speeds than stated. CH-4 can stay in the air for about 30 hours.

The CH-4 is extremely similar to the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper. The Global Times did not say which of the two versions [CH-4A or CH-4B] was tested. The CH-4A is a reconnaissance version, while the CH-4B is a mix between reconnaissance and an attack version of the drone.

The attack version is capable of launching air-to-surface missiles at a range of 5,000 meters. According to sources in China, the CH-4 is already operating in some countries, such as Myanmar, Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and Iraq.

Sources tell that the new heavy-fuel engine guarantees an increase in the time spent in the air by at least another 10 hours ie. 40 hours. The reconnaissance version has a communication range of over 1,000 km thanks to SatCom. The communication range from Ground Control Station [GCS] is just over 150 km.

The attack version can be armed with several possible weapons, including AR-1 missile, AR-2 missile, AKD-10 air-to-surface anti-tank missile, BRMI-90 90mm guided rocket, FT-7/130 130 kg glide bombs, FT-9/50 50 kg bomb, FT-10/25 25 kg bomb, GB-7/50 50 kg precision-guided munition [PGM], GB-4/100 PGM.


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