Pakistan has received five Cai Hong 4 (Rainbow 4, or CH-4) multirole medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from China, according to export-import (EXIM) logs on the Pakistan Exim Trade Info website.
The UAVs, which were delivered by Chinese defense contractor Aerospace Long-March International Trade Co Ltd (ALIT), arrived in the South Asian country on 15 January, according to the website.
It is unclear, however, which variant of the CH-4 was ordered by Islamabad, and whether this delivery is part of a larger UAV order or just a limited acquisition of this UAV type, possibly for testing.
The CH-4 family of multirole MALE UAVs was developed by ALIT and China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), and comes with a multitude of sensor options. Two variants are known to be in service with China’s People’s Liberation Army: the baseline CH-4A, which is configured primarily for reconnaissance missions with a flight endurance of 30 hours, and the strike-capable CH-4B, which is capable of carrying a 345 kg weapon payload, but has a shorter flight endurance of 14 hours.
There is also third variant called the CH-4C, which is still believed to be in the testing phase. This latest variant is reported to offer several improvements over the CH-4B, including a greater payload, increased electrical power generation, as well as updated data processing and electronic architecture, enabling a wider range of payloads to be carried.
Pakistan joins Iraq, Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Myanmar, and Jordan as an operator of the CH-4. It is unclear if Pakistan ordered the CH-4A or CH-4B.
The CH-4 drone has a maximum take-off weight of 1300 kg and a payload of 345 kg in addition to its electro-optical turret and synthetic aperture radar. The aircraft has a wingspan of 18 metres and length of 8.5 metres. It is powered by a 100 hp class piston engine giving a top speed of 235 km/h and cruise speed of 180 km/h with endurance of up to 40 hours.
Equipped with air to ground missiles such as the AR-2, the CH-4 presents itself as close-combat weapon, especially when up against targets which don’t have drone detection technology.
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