China starts mass production of US' MQ-9 reaper rival drone
China has started producing the CH-5 Rainbow heavy military drone commercially, which is considered a rival of America's unmanned combat aerial vehicle MQ-9 Reaper.
Wang Song, a professor of aeronautics at China's Beihang University, said the first mass-produced CH-5 Rainbow took flight.
Song said CH-5 Rainbow costs half as much as the MQ-9 Reaper and that China plans to export it.
China's armed combat drone
CH-5 can conduct reconnaissance, strike missions and more
The CH-5 has a wingspan of 21 meters and can carry a payload of up to 1,000 kg. The drone, which has a 10,000-kilometer range, can fly for up to 60 hours.
The drone can conduct military reconnaissance, surveillance, patrol, target positioning and strike missions.
CH-4 lags behind US reaper due to weaker engine
Unlike the American Reaper which flies at a height of 12,000 to 15,000-meters, the Chinese CH-5 can't operate higher than 9,000-meters.
This makes the CH-5 vulnerable to anti-aircraft weapons.
Beihang University's Wang said the CH-5's low ceiling is due to a relatively weak engine.
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China considers exporting CH-5
The American Reaper costs $16.9 million, making it the world's most expensive combat drones. The Chinese CH-5 will reportedly cost less than half of that. "We believe it will be a success in domestic and international markets," said Shi Wen, chief engineer of the Rainbow drone project.
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