According to Chinese media the new drone, which has been compared to the U.S. Reaper, made its first flight this weekend.
The Caihong 5, or Rainbow 5, can reportedly carry a payload of up to 3 tons and boasts wall-penetrating radar. The drone’s maiden flight lasted just 20 minutes over Gansu Province, but engineers claim that it can undertake missions of up to 20 hours flight time, according to RT.
New drone offers massive carrying capacity
With a wingspan of 20 meters it is the largest drone produced by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, and can carry loads 2.5 times heavier than the previous largest model.
Ou Zhongming, chief designer, claims that the Caihong 5 can be equipped with radar capable of penetrating walls. Such a system would allow it to follow targets even if they enter buildings.
As it stands Chinese drones require human confirmation before they open fire on a target, as do U.S. drones that have been in service during operations in the Middle East. Drone technology has proved particularly useful in eliminating terrorist elements in urban settings, where house-to-house fighting lends an advantage to those who are familiar with the area.
“Terrorists have their hideouts. They can hide in a bush or in a house. That requires us to go through walls and identify the objects inside,” Ou reportedly told CCTV.
Video Courtesy: RT
Electronic warfare drones a priority
Fellow designer Lan Wenbo claimed that Caihong 5 can also be adapted to carry electronic warfare equipment. The systems can be used to prevent other drones from being detected and hacked by adversaries..
China is currently the biggest drone producer in the world, with a focus on the consumer market. Companies such as DJI have proven popular with consumers around the world.
When it comes to military drones, the U.S. and Israel remain at the head of the pack, particularly in weaponized drones. However China is investing heavily in its domestic arms production capacity, and it was recently announced that engineers have made significant progress in manufacturing an anti-stealth drone.
Such a vehicle would be capable of detecting enemy stealth aircraft and warships, such as the F-35 fighter jet that the U.S. is currently developing. If anti-stealth drones are ever produced on any great scale it would significantly reduce the competitive advantage enjoyed by stealth vehicles, and would constitute a serious concern for U.S. military strategy.
China’s domestic arms production capacity improving rapidly
Alongside the Caihong 5 and the anti-stealth drone, China is also producing a huge amount of other types of military technology. Officials plan to unveil a huge amount of military tech at a parade on September 3 in Beijing.
The parade marks the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan in World War II, and shows China’s increased confidence in its military capabilities. Officials claim that 80% of the hardware will be on display for the first time, exhibiting the advances made in the Chinese arms industry.
Military delegations from 10 foreign countries, including Russia, will contribute to the parade, which will be the first during the rule of President Xi Jinping. Xi has made it a priority to clean up rampant corruption in the armed forces in order to improve operational capabilities, as China increasingly looks to project military power further from its shores.
Beijing insists that the parade is not intended to send a message to any particular nation, but at a time of increasing tensions due to territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas, it would be understandable if such a show of strength caused unease among China’s Asian neighbors.