Pictures: Saudi Air Force CH-4 drones revealed

Photo: Mohammed bin Khalid
First pictures of the Chinese Chengdu CH-4 Rainbow combat UAV operated by Saudi Royal Air Force (RSAF) has surfaced online.

Saudi has been operating the attack and reconnaissance drone from the King Khalid air force base in the south-west of Saudi Arabia, near Khamis Mushait.

The fleet have seen considerable combat action especially in patrolling missions along the Saudi-Yemeni borders to counter Iran backed Houthi infiltration attempts.

The CH-4B is similar to the now retired US General Atomics MQ-1 Predator UAV with 4 under wing weapon pylons and a payload capacity of up to 250 to 345 kg.

Saudi Arabia struck a deal with China to buy unknown number of these combat drones in 2017 along with licensed manufacturing in the Kingdom. The production line will also cater to the needs of other operators of the type in the region, including Iraq, Egypt and Jordan.

Photo: Mohammed bin Khalid
The fleet were first spotted earlier this year, operating from the Jizan airport, close to the Yemen border. The CH-4 closely resemble the Predator UAV in weight and performance characteristics.

According to a Chinese govt progress report, over 30 CH-4 UAVs have been exported worth nearly $700 million. The fleet had accumulated over 1000 sorties, 10000 flight hours, firing over 400 missiles with accuracy reaching 96% in real combat.