Sunday, October 18, 2009

China’s Retaliation on U.S. with Drones

Chinese UAV@Yaomin Peng

China is revenging on U.S. with its newly developed combat drones. According to the news from China, recently China’s unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) are going to overseas. On the international arms exhibition, BRIDEX 2009, held in August in Brunei, China’s medium-sized CH-3 UCAVs were welcomed by many countries from Asia Pacific and Middle East. Besides China, some arms dealers from US and Canada, such as Raytheon Company, Piper Aircraft, Lockheed Martin, Harris Corp., CAE, and Bell Helicopter, showed their products there.

The CH-3 drone is the first kind of UCAV China pushed to the international market. China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, No.11 Branch designed it.

The CH-3 is 5.5m long with wingspan 8.0m. Its take-off weight is 640kg, and its maximum load is 100kg.The CH-3 has service ceiling of 6,000m high with cruise altitude 3,000 to 5,000m. Its range is 2,400km. To take off from a runway, the CH-3 is also equipped with a 3-point landing gear.

For the reconnaissance purpose, an opto-electronics equipment is mounted under the CH-3’s belly. The CH-3 can also carry up to two AR-1 anti-tank missiles. To fit the maximum load of the CH-3, the AR-1 missile is specially designed to a weight of only 45kg with 6.8 kilograms of high-explosives in its warhead. The missile is guided by IR plus a combination of GPS and inertial guidance once it is launched to the target. It is able to penetrate 1.4m armor. It can also be used to destroy fortifications and other fixed targets.

In 1994 China bought some IAI Harpy Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) from Israel. In 2004, when the UAVs were returned to Israel under contract to be upgraded, the United States demanded that Israel detain the Harpy UAVs and nullify the contract. The United States insisted the Harpy contained U.S. technology, although Israel argued that the Harpy was an indigenously designed UAV. In 2005, the Harpy UAVs were returned to China without being upgraded.

The Israeli Harpy is a UAV designed to attack opponent’s radar. It can be launched from a launcher mounted on a ground vehicle or a surface ship far away from the war zone. Once the sensor of the Harpy finds the enemy’s radar, the UAV makes a nearly vertical dive to the target and destroy it with its high-explosive warhead.


The IAI Harpy is smaller than China-made CH-3. Its length is 2.7m, and its wingspan is only 2.1m. Its range is 1/5 of that of CH-3, maximum 500 km. The Harpy is armed with a 32kg air-to-ground missile with a high-explosive warhead.

Now China is selling its own UCAVs under the eyes of the United States. Some analysts say that China is giving the United States a lesson with selling its newly born drones.