Last year the Iraqi military took delivery of three Chinese CH-4 Cai Hong drones, an aircraft that, according to its creators, is better than the American MQ-1B Predator. That claim is now being put to the test as the drones carry out strikes against ISIS with bombs and laser-guided missiles.
The CH-4s are flying from Al-Hayy airbase in support of operations in Anbar province, site of Ramadi and Fallujah, where heavy fighting has been taking place. A recent Iraqi video (warning: graphic combat footage) shows four drone strikes, and claims that the drones destroyed one suicide car bomb before it could be used, two other vehicles carrying fighters, and a covered trench occupied by ISIS.
The Cai Hong-4 ( “Rainbow 4”) was developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the nation’s leading military drone makers. It first flew in 2011. While it bears some resemblance to the Predator, it is larger, with a wingspan of 60 feet and a maximum take-off weight of 3,000 lbs., compared to the 50-foot wingspan and 2,250 lbs. of the Predator. This gives it a payload 750 lbs. and an endurance of 38 hours, compared to 450 pounds and 24 hours for the Predator.
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