China for the first time unveiled its new unmanned aerial vehicle of the High-Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) type at the Zhuhai Airshow 2021.
Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) publicly unveil the CH-6 high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) remotely piloted vehicle with a bizarre design.
The CH-6 is considered to be a high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned system designed for intelligence gathering, support, and strike roles.
It looks almost something like a drastically enlarged CH-5, but its rear configuration is very different from that earlier design. It has a high T-tail setup, with two jet engines installed atop the tail section side-by-side.
The drone’s mid-set long wings are also a bit swept and the entire package sits atop tall landing gear. The aircraft also has a notable chine-line-like edge that wraps around its ellipse-shaped fuselage.
According to China-Arms.com, which claims to have the basic information that will be displayed about the CH-6 at the airshow, its stats include:
The CH-6 UAV’s parameters include maximum takeoff weight of 7.8 tons, maximum load capacity of 300 kg (reconnaissance type) or 2 tons (reconnaissance-attack type), fuel capacity of 3.42 tons (reconnaissance type) or 1.72 tons (reconnaissance-attack type), overall length of 15 meters, wingspan of 20.5 meters, height of 5 meters, maximum level flight speed of 800 km/h, cruise speed of 500 km/h to 700 km/h, cruise altitude of 10 km, ceiling of 12 km, a maximum endurance of 20 hours (reconnaissance type) or 8 hours (reconnaissance-attack type), a maximum range of 12,000 km (reconnaissance type) or 4,500 km (reconnaissance-attack type), a maximum climb rate of 20 m/s, and an operating radius (apparent) of 300 km.
The CH-6 seems to be situated in a capability space between its medium-altitude, medium-endurance, unstealthy unmanned combat aircraft brethren — as well as China’s long-endurance, medium-altitude, propeller-powered surveillance types — and more advanced high-altitude, long-endurance intelligence-gathering and sensor craft jet-powered drones.
The fact that it will be capable of being armed from the outset is a clear indication that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force is looking to push its unmanned kinetic capabilities farther afield than what is possible now.