|Pentagon banned the use of drones developed by China / Photo Credit: rawf8 (via Shutterstock)|
Aerospace CH UAV, China’s main space program contractor, seeks to deliver 200 medium-sized and large military drones to international buyers every year, according to Dave Makichuk of Asia Times, a Hong Kong-based English language news platform. Aerospace CH UAV showed its technologies at Zhuhai’s 12th China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition in 2018. As of this writing, the UK, France, and Italy have purchased an armed version of the MQ-9 Reaper, while other allies of the US like Jordan are using Chinese drones such as the CH-4. Apparently, the US is attempting to “recapture the armed drone market.”
Since the US is concerned about Chinese tech companies sharing sensitive data to Beijing, the Pentagon banned the use of drones developed by China’s DJI and may ban all Chinese-built drones and components from military use. Douglas Barrie, senior fellow for Military Aerospace with International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, explained, “Chinese manufacturers appear to have spotted a gap in the market as a result of US restrictions on the sale of armed UAVs and have used this as a route to market.” For example, the UAE purchased drones from China after the US refused to sell them American armed drones, according to Jack Watling, a land warfare expert at the Royal United Services Institute in London
China is also less selective with its clients. Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher at SIPRI, stated that the country sells drones without asking questions. Wezeman added, “The Chinese will just take one look at you and sell to you. Western suppliers will look at you and give you a list of conditions.”
China’s CH-4 is suitable for high-altitude missions, be it at land or sea. It has a maximum take-off weight of 1,260kg (2,770 lb) and payload capacity of 115 kg. Having a wingspan of 18m, the CH-4 has a take-off weight of 1.3 tons and a payload of 350 kg. The UAV can carry weapons like Lan Jian 7 (Blue Arrow 7) laser-guided air-to-surface missiles, TG100 laser/INS/GPS-guided bombs, and AR-1/HJ-10 anti-tank missile. It can fire its weapons from up to 5,000 meters, making it a lethal armed UAV.