Toe to toe with US: China unveils its heaviest drone
The Caihong 5, or Rainbow 5, was in the air over an undisclosed location in Gansu Province for just 20 minutes, but reportedly has endurance for 30 hours of flight. It has wingspan of 20 meters and surpasses the previous model developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation by 2.5 times in terms of carrying capacity.
The drone’s chief designer, Ou Zhongming, said it can be equipped with wall-penetrating radar capability, which would allow it to track targets inside buildings. At the moment Chinese drones are not allowed to open fire without a ‘go’ from an on-ground observer. The technology has been widely used by the US during operations in the Middle East.
“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 said in a CCTV report.
Another designer, Lan Wenbo, said Rainbow 5 can be armed with electronic warfare equipment that would protect other drones from detection and hacking.
China is the world's biggest drone producer, but it focuses on the civilian segment of the market. Countries like the US and Israel are leading in military applications of robotic aircraft, particularly weaponized ones.
The revelation comes days ahead of a big military parade, which China is to host on September 3 to commemorate the defeat of Imperial Japan in World War II. Beijing announced that more than 80 percent of the military hardware it plans to display had never been shown to the general public before. Over 10 foreign nations, including Russia, contributed their troops to the grand event in Beijing.