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​New Chinese HALE UAV breaks cover on TV

A new Chinese high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned air vehicle has appeared on the nation's state television.

The report designates the aircraft as the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) CH-5, or Rainbow 5. It reportedly has a wingspan of 20m (65.6ft) and can carry weapons.

The aircraft is outwardly similar to the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Reaper, which also has a 20m wingspan. Like the Reaper, it has a V-tail as well as a ventral fin below, and its tricycle landing gear layout is also similar.

However, the aircraft in the images lacks hardpoints for weapons beneath its wings, and also does not appear to be equipped with an electro-optical/infrared sensor.

The CH-5 closely resembles the CH-4A/4B UAV also produced by CASC. At the 2014 Airshow China in Zhuhai, a company brochure said the CH-4 series is suitable for HALE missions over land and sea. Its maximum take-off weight was listed as 1,260kg (2,770lb), and it is capable of carrying a payload of 115kg.

Endurance for the CH-4 series is claimed at up to 30h, and the system is capable of surveillance as well as target acquisition. It also has the ability to carry ground-attack weapons.

Images of the CH-4 in the CASC brochures show that its appearance is similar to the CH-5, but without the ventral fin.

Emergence of the CH-5 footage comes just days after video appeared on Chinese television showing the AVIC Wing Loong UAV attacking targets with missiles and bombs.

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