China’s Drones Are Taking on ISIS (And Here’s Why America Should Worry)

    Arnaud Delalande

    Security, Middle East

    Chinese-made drones are proving their worth in combat.

    On Feb. 12th, 2018, the Iraqi ministry of defense released a video depicting its Chinese-made CH-4B armed unmanned aerial vehicles. The brief report underscores the type’s success in Iraqi service.

    The video claims that the CH-4B drones have executed most of their attack and reconnaissance missions in northwest Iraq. Since their entry into operational service, they have performed no fewer than 260 air strikes against Islamic State targets, with a success rate close to 100 percent.

    Iraq ordered its CH-4Bs from China in 2014, probably after the visit to Iraq by the Chinese foreign minister in February of that year. The CH-4 is inspired by the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator and is designed by China Aerospace Long March International.

    The CH-4B version, as ordered by Iraq, can carry a payload of 761 pounds, compared to the CH-4A with its 254-pound payload. Weapons can include two AR-1/HJ-10 anti-tank guided missiles, Chinese equivalents of the Lockheed Martin AGM 114 Hellfire, and two FT-9 GPS-guided bombs.

    The CH-4B has a ceiling of 23,000 feet, a cruise speed of up to 112 miles per hour, a maximum speed of 130 miles per hour, an endurance of 14 hours and an operating radius of 155 miles. The first batch was received on Jan. 23, 2015 and the first photographs — showing three vehicles — circulated that March.

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