Chinese CH-4 drones falling out of favour due to maintenance issues

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Beijing [China], September 6 (ANI): Chinese CH-4 drones falling out of favour with some of its major operators due to maintenance problems.

David Axe, writing in The National Interest said that the Iraqi Air Force that had 10 CH-4 drones is now down to just one.

Beijing's CH-4 is roughly similar to the US-made MQ-1 Predator and was briefly popular among Middle East militaries that baulked at the cost, politics and paperwork associated with acquiring armed drones from the United States.

The Iraqi air force is down to just one operational CH-4 out of a fleet of around 10, according to an August 2019 report from the US Inspector-General, reported The National Interest.

Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led operation targeting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, told the inspector-general that maintenance problems have grounded most of the Iraqi CH-4s.

The Chinese unmanned aerial vehicle, which is remotely controlled via satellite. But the Chinese drones seem to be going out of style. The Jordanian air force in June 2019 put up for sale its own six CH-4s, says Axe.

The Jordanian air force's No 9 Squadron operated the Chinese-made drones. The same unit operates the air force's other unmanned aerial vehicles, including Schiebel S-100 Camcopters and Leonardo Falcos.

It wasn't until May 2018 that the Jordanian air force displayed a CH-4 in public, says Axe.

"Marketed by Aerospace Long-March International Trade, the CH-4B has found a good market here in the Middle East, in part due to the reluctance of US authorities to sell armed UAVs to their allies in the region," Al-Monitor reported.

"Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq have all acquired the CH-4B armed version, and the type has been employed widely on operations in Yemen and against [ISIS] targets in Iraq."

But Jordan never gave up trying to get permission to buy American drones, which are widely considered as having better sensors, weapons and communications links than the Chinese drones do, reported The National Interest.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon is increasingly concerned that China's growing arms sales give the country more clout to secure an economic and military foothold and relationships with US allies in a region where defense officials often control the purse strings.

"It's potentially a tool for them to develop closer defense and military ties, particularly for future access," Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Affairs Randall Schriver told Al-Monitor at a recent Pentagon briefing. "China is less disciplined, and so there's a proliferation risk as well to regimes that we would regard as not necessarily responsible." (ANI)

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