Chinese CH-4 drone to get kerosene engine


The Chinese armed reconnaissance drone CH-4 will be fitted with a new and stronger engine that would allow it to fly higher than the current version: its piston engine that burns gasoline will be replaced with a domestically made next-generation, heavy-fuel engine that burns kerosene, a spokesperson of the Chinese Academy of Aerospace and Aerodynamics (CAAA) under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC), the drone's manufacturer, told the Global Times on 18 December.


Chinese CH 4 drone to get kerosene engine
CH-4 UAV (Picture source: Army Recognition)


The new engine will allow the drone to reach a height of 9,000 meters, according to a report on the WeChat public account of Ordnance Industry Science Technology, a Xi'an-based periodical on national defense industries and technologies. That is even higher than Mount Qomolangma, better known as Mount Everest, which is 8,844 meters high. With the current piston engine, the CH-4 can only reach 7,200 meters high.

Fu Qianshao, a Chinese air defense expert, told the Global Times on Tuesday that by switching from gasoline to kerosene, the new engine will open the door for the CH-4 to operate on large vessels. Gasoline is volatile and may lead to fire accidents, which is especially dangerous at sea, which explains why gasoline is not allowed on military vessels, Fu said. Heavy-fuel like aviation kerosene is much safer, he said.

The new engine can also reduce the fuel consumption by 20 % compared to the current one, and significantly shorten the takeoff ground run distance, Ordnance Industry Science Technology reported. Heavy-fuel is also less expensive than gasoline, Fu noted.

The CH-4's upgrade is similar to the US-made MQ-1 Predator drone. Its updated version, MQ-1C Gray Eagle, uses a heavy-fuel engine, the report said. With CAAA's new armed reconnaissance drone on the market, the new domestic engine will help the CH-4 in terms of combat capability as the drone will also see a further price reduction following mass production, the report said.

At Airshow China 2018 in Zhuhai in November, the CAAA revealed the latest additions to the CH drone series: the flying-wing stealth combat drone CH-7 and the tilt-rotor drone CH-10.


 

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