China’s gigantic twin-engine, long-endurance armed UAV emerges

From September 28 to October 3, during China’s big international airshow in Zhuhai city, south China’s Guangdong Province, the developers will display plenty of exciting aircraft models.

One of them is China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation’s Cai Hong (Rainbow) 6, better known as the CH-6. The CH-6 is a large, high-altitude, high-speed, long-endurance, multi-purpose unmanned aircraft system.

The high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned system is designed for intelligence gathering, support, and strike roles. Also, the device is distinguished by great flight range and carrying capacity.

In terms of design, the new drone looks like the previous model, the CH-5, with the only difference that it has a high T-tail setup, with two jet engines installed atop the tail section side-by-side, and the shape of the mid-set long wings is slightly modified. The high-fidelity renderings of the jet also show that the aircraft has a notable chine-line-like edge that wraps around its ellipse-shaped fuselage.

According to China-Arms.com, which claims to have the basic information that will be displayed about the CH-6 at the airshow, the CH-6 UAV boasts a maximum takeoff weight of 7.8 tons, a maximum load capacity of 300 kg (reconnaissance type) or 2 tons (reconnaissance-attack type), and fuel capacity of 3.42 tons (reconnaissance type) or 1.72 tons (reconnaissance-attack type). The combat drone has an overall length of 15 meters, the height of 5 meters, and a wingspan of 20.5 meters.

The CH-6 UAV can achieve a maximum level flight speed of 800 km/h (500 mph), cruise speed of 500 km/h to 700 km/h (310-435 mph), cruise altitude of 10 km (6 miles), the ceiling of 12 km (7.4 miles), a maximum endurance of 20 hours (reconnaissance type) or 8 hours (reconnaissance-attack type), a maximum range of 12,000 km (7,456 miles) (reconnaissance type) or 4,500 km (2,796 miles) (reconnaissance-attack type), a maximum climb rate of 20 m/s, and an operating radius (apparent) of 300 km (186 miles).

In terms of takeoff weight, this is one of the largest UAVs in China, which, moreover, can be used as an aerial long-term stationary platform. The CH-6 armed UAV also has the capability to mount a variety of loads such as early warning radar, electronic reconnaissance, air-to-ground missiles, air-to-ground bombs, anti-radiation missiles, etc.

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