The American Military’s Reaper drone might have been impressive, but it’s Chinese counterpart claims to be way better. General Atomics’ Predator B “Reaper” drone prides itself in being the world’s first military-capable unmanned aerial vehicle.
However, China has now come up with something that they claim is better and more cost efficient than the Predator — meet the CH-5 Rainbow, a drone that can carry 16 missiles and fly for about 120 hours.
Furthermore, the Rainbow can cover a distance of more than 10,000 kilometers (6,213 miles) and utilizes a very simple interface. It’s reported that even a student with limited aviation knowledge can fly the drone after merely two days of training.
Even the Rainbow’s take-off and landing can be done rather easily since it can be automated. What’s more impressive is the cost of China’s CH-5 drones which is reported to be “less than half the price” of the Predator, according to SCMP.
The Rainbow’s chief designer is confident in the drone’s design, claiming that it “leaves the Predator in the dust.” While China’s drone does sound impressive, it still comes with certain limitations.
China’s drone pales in comparison to The Predator when it comes to altitude. The U.S. military drone is capable of reaching 12,000 to 15,000 meters (7.5 – 9.3 miles) in altitude. On the other hand, the CH-5 can only go as high as 9,000 meters (5.6 miles) due to its weaker engine.
This limitation makes the Rainbow vulnerable to anti-aircraft attacks such as missiles and RPGs. It’s reported that engines on American aircraft still remain superior to those from China.
This technological rift is the only weakness found in China’s competetive military drones. Despite its flaws, China’s Rainbow drones still sold over 200 units to over a dozen countries. Due to its “size and sophistication”, the production for larger CH-5 drones will only be in limited quantity per year.