CASC Rainbow

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CASC Rainbow (Cai Hong, abbreviated as CH) is a series of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) developed by the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), also known as the 11th Academy of CASC,[1] or 701st Research Institute.


CH-1 is the first of the Rainbow (CH) series UAVs. The general designer was Mr. Shi Wen (石文), who is also the general designer of CH-2, the successor of CH-1, CASC PW-1, the derivative of CH-1, and CASC PW-2, the derivative of CH-2. The CH-1 program began in 2000, and its success resulted in the establishment of the UAV program that led to other designs that followed. The CH-1 is mainly intended for reconnaissance and surveillance missions.[2] Specification:[3]

  • Wingspan (m): 4.4
  • Length (m): 3.75
  • Height (m): 0.87
  • Weight (kg): 40
  • Payload (kg): 4.5
  • Fuel (kg): 26
  • Max speed (km/h): 170
  • Cruise speed (km/h): 120 – 150
  • Normal radius (km): > 100
  • Normal operating altitude (km): 1 – 3
  • Ceiling (km): 4.6
  • Max range (km): 740 @ 1 km altitude and 124 km/h speed
  • Endurance (h): 6
  • Rate of climb (m/s): 4.3
  • Turn radius (m): 290
  • g overload: - 1.5 to 3
  • Launch: rocket assisted + catapult mounted on vehicle
  • Recovery: parachute
  • Max wind scale allowed for operation: 5


CH-2 is the second of the Rainbow (CH) series UAVs and is a development of the earlier CH-1, with identical twin-boom layout. As for the CH-1, propulsion is provided by a two-blade propeller driven by a pusher engine mounted at the rear end of the fuselage, and the UAV is launched via vehicle mounted catapult with rocketed assisted take-off.[4][5] The CH-2 is mainly intended for reconnaissance and surveillance missions.[2]


CH-3 is a fixed wing unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) of the Rainbow series. The CH-3 adopts an unusual canard layout, similar to the Jetcruzer 450 and the Rutan VariEze. This means that the CH-3 lacks centrally located vertical tail, but has large winglets and canards. Propulsion is provided by a three-blade propeller driven by a pusher engine mounted on empennage. The main landing wheels of the tricycle landing gear has fairing to reduce drag.[6]

In January, 2015, a CH-3 drone was reported to have crashed in the north of Nigeria.[7] It is believed the drone was involved in Nigeria's struggle against the Islamic militant group, Boko Haram.[8] China supplied the CH-3 to Nigeria government prior to 2014, along with YC-200 guided bombs and AR-1 air-to-ground missile.[9] In February, 2016, Nigeria announced a successful drone strike in its ongoing war against Boko Haram.[10]

China delivered 12 CH-3 to Myanmar in 2014-2015 to fight rebels.[11] NESCOM Burraq is thought to be mostly influenced by CH-3.[12]


  • Wingspan (m): 8
  • Range (km): 960
  • Endurance (h): 12
  • Payload (kg): 60 – 80
  • Ceiling (km): 4


CH-3A is the development of CH-3 and share the identical layout. Improvement of CH-3A over CH-3 includes that the maximum payload is increased to more than 100 kg, and satellite data link is also incorporated. CH3A is a multipurpose UAV which can also carry AR 1 laser guided rocket for attacking role. It is also widely rumoured that Myanmar Air Force operates them, and some images have been found.


  • Payload (kg): 180 maximum
  • Endurance (h): 6 with maximum payload
  • Ceiling (Km): 4
  • Max Range (km): 960


CH-4 is the largest fixed wing UCAV of the Rainbow series (as of end of 2013).[2] Externally, CH-4 looks almost identical to General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, and the only distinct visual difference between two UAVs is that the ventral fin below the V-tail on MQ-9 is absent on CH-4.[14][15][16] There are two versions, the CH-4A and CH-4B. The CH-4A is a reconnaissance drone (capable of a 3500–5000 km range and a 30- to 40-hour endurance) while the CH-4B is a mixed attack and reconnaissance system with provisions for 6 weapons and a payload of up to 250 to 345 kg.

CH-4 is capable of firing air-to-ground missile from altitude of 5,000 meters (~16,400 feet), therefore the aircraft can stay outside of effective range of most anti-aircraft guns. It also allows CH-4 to be able to fire from a position that provides wider viewing area.[17]

Vasiliy Kashin, a China specialist at Moscow's Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said that The CH-4B UCAV has been exported to Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Iraq.[18][19]

Iraq has received an unknown number of CH-4B in early 2015, spurred on battlefield reversals in Mosul and Ramadi to ISIL.[20]

Saqr-1 is thought to be mostly influenced by CH-4.[21]


The CH-5 is the latest UCAV of the Rainbow series, with a wingspan of 21 metres, a payload of 1,000 kg, a maximum takeoff weight of over 3 tonnes, a service ceiling of 9 km, an endurance of up to 60 hours[22] and a range of 10,000 km. Thanks to shared data link it can cooperate with CH-3 and CH-4 drones. It conducted its maiden flight in August 2015[23][24] and its first airshow flight (in northern Hebei province) in July 2017.[22] The drone can carry 16 missiles at a single time. There were also plans to extend its range up to 20,000 km.[25] Chinese officials claimed the CH-5 Rainbow was similar in performance to the US MQ-9 Reaper and "may come in at less than half the price." Compared to the Garrett TPE331 turboprop engine mounted on the Reaper, CH-5 is equipped with an unidentified turbo-charged piston engine, with less than half the horsepower. This choice limits the maximum altitude of the CH-5 to 9 km compared to the 12–15 km of the Reaper, but it also extends CH-5's endurance to 60 hours compared to 14 hour of the Reaper's. Future blocks of CH-5 will be able to stay in the air for up to 120 hours.[26]


The CH-7 is a stealthy flying wing UCAV similar to the X-47B, with a 22m wingspan and 10m length. It can fly at 920 km/h and at an altitude of 13,000m. Endurance is about 15 hours and its operational radius is 2000 kilometers.[27] It can carry antiradiation missiles and standoff weapons.[28][29][30] According to its chief designer, "the CH-7 can intercept radar electronic signals, and simultaneously detect, verify and monitor high-value targets, such as hostile command stations, missile launch sites and naval vessels". It is planned to make its maiden flight in 2019 and commence production in 2022.[27]


The CH-10 is a tilt-rotor UAV.[31]


CH-91 is a fixed-wing UAV in twin-boom layout with inverted v-tail and a pair of skids as landing gear. Propulsion is provided by a two-blade propeller driven by a pusher engine mounted at the rear end of the fuselage.[32][33] CH-91 is mainly intended for reconnaissance and surveillance missions.[2] It's also called as BZK-008.


CH-92 is a fixed-wing UAV in conventional layout with V-tail and tricycle landing gear. Propulsion is provided by a propeller driven by a pusher engine mounted at the empennage. CH-92 is mainly intended for reconnaissance and surveillance missions.[2][34]


CH-802 is a fixed wing micro air vehicle (MAV) in conventional layout with elevated high-wing configuration and V-tail. CH-802 has a cylindrical fuselage and propulsion is provided by a two-blade propeller driven by a tractor brushless electric motor atop of the fuselage.[35][36] CH-803 is mainly intended for reconnaissance and surveillance missions.[2] CH-802 program begun in 2007 and was completed in 2008. Specification:[37][38]

  • Wingspan (m): 3
  • Length (m): 1.8
  • Weight (kg): 6.5
  • Payload (kg): 1
  • Radius (km): 30
  • Normal operating altitude (km): 0.3 – 1
  • Normal radius (km): 30 – 50
  • Cruise speed (km/h): 60
  • Endurance (h): 2.5
  • Ceiling (km): 4
  • Launch: by hand


CH-803 is a fixed-wing UAV with a cylindrical fuselage and canards, but without tailplane. Propulsion is provided by two-blade propeller driven by a tractor engine mounted in the nose. Another unique feature of CH-803 is that it adopts forward-swept wing.[37] CH-803 is mainly intended for reconnaissance and surveillance missions.[2] CH-803 program begun in 2008 and was completed in 2011. Specification:[38]

  • Wingspan (m): 3
  • Length (m): 1.8
  • Weight (kg): 18
  • Payload (kg): 3.5
  • Radius (km): 30
  • Normal operating altitude (km): 0.5 – 1.5
  • Normal radius (km): 50 – 80
  • Cruise speed (km/h): 80 – 110
  • Endurance (h): 5
  • Ceiling (km): 3.5
  • Launch: catapult
  • Recovery: parachute


CH-901 is a fixed-wing UAV in conventional layout with cylindrical fuselage and high-wing configuration. Propulsion is provided by a two-blade propeller driven by a pusher engine mounted at the end of empennage.[39] CH-901 is designed as an UCAV.[2][40]


 Saudi Arabia

See also[edit]


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