China has unveiled its latest stealth drone technology as Beijing attempts to capture the Middle East and international drone market.
A prototype of Caihong-7 (CH-7) or Rainbow 7, which is currently in the design stage, was showcased for the first time recently at the Airshow China 2018.
The UAV is being built by the state-owned Chinese Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, which hopes to begin test flights next year and mass production in 2022.
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. With a wingspan of 72 feet and a length of 33 feet, the CH-7 is the size of a combat aircraft and can fly around the speed of a commercial aircraft.
The rainbow series of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) can perform fire suppression, electronic warfare, reconnaissance, long-term warning and other tasks on the battlefield.
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.
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.
According to experts the UAV has has the ability to be modified for use on carriers, and if it is equipped with radar, it would improve China’s ability to safeguard maritime rights and interests.
Egypt, Iraq, Myanmar, Pakistan, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates are among China’s customers.