China unveils new stealth drone prototype at air show

By Liu Yang in Zhuhai and Liu Caiyu in Beijing Source:Global Times Published: 2018/11/5 14:48:39

China's Caihong-7 (CH-7) or Rainbow 7 is displayed at the Airshow China 2018 which begins Tuesday in Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong Province. Photo: Wan Quan

A prototype of China's Caihong-7 (CH-7) or Rainbow 7 is on display at the Airshow China 2018, which begins Tuesday in Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong Province.

Wang Yongzhi, the technical expert of the Rainbow series, told the Global Times on Monday in an exclusive interview that the Caihong-7 is a high-altitude, subsonic, and stealth drone, which has a maximum takeoff weight of 13 tons and a wingspan of 22 meters. Rainbow-7 is currently in the design stage.

The rainbow series of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) can perform fire suppression, electronic warfare, reconnaissance, long-term warning and other tasks on the battlefield.

The CH-7 was developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).

Its development makes China among a handful of companies to develop high-altitude, high-speed and stealth drones worldwide. The CH-7 is competing with the US RQ-180 and X-47B, Wang noted.

The Rainbow-7 can perform tasks together with manned aircraft, including four generations of stealth fighters. The UAV would perform pre-reconnaissance and surveillance missions, using its stealth capabilities and long-haul performance, together with manned aircraft and early warning aircraft, Wang said.

With a maximum takeoff weight of 13 tons, it can mount more advanced reconnaissance payloads and more combat weapons, performing on-demand missions on high-value targets.

Caihong-7 (CH-7) or Rainbow 7 Photo: Wan Quan

Wang believes that high altitude, high speed and invisibility will be the trend of high-end drone development.

According to Wang, the CH-7 will continue to inherit the advantages of the CH-4 and CH-5 - high reliability, high attendance, universal ground station and full automatic control technology - but will also adopt technology of previous models that have not been used.

Unlike the CH-3, CH-4, and CH-5 which adopted the traditional unmanned structure, the CH-7 adopts a flying wing configuration with typical stealth characteristics. With the breakthrough in aerodynamic designs, the flight control also adapted a tailless wing configuration. In terms of power, it uses a turbofan engine that can fly at high altitudes and high speed, Wang told the Global Times.

To achieve a stealth performance, Wang noted that the CH-7 will also have an invisible shape and coated wave-absorbing material.

The CH-7 is mainly meant to meet the development needs of China's own related equipment. If it conforms to the national export policy, it can also be sold to help improve the defenses of other countries, Wang said.

The UAV has the ability to be modified for use on carriers, Wang noted, adding if it is equipped with radar, it would improve China's ability to safeguard maritime rights and interests.

Posted in: MILITARY

blog comments powered by Disqus