Algerian is evaluating the Chinese CH-4 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and is reportedly very interested in acquiring the type, which can be armed with guided weapons.
The CH-4, developed by the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA), has been undergoing testing with the Algerian military for some months, according to Air Forces Daily. One is reported to have crashed during testing at the Algerian Air Force’s base at Tindouf several months ago while a second one crashed on Sunday at the Ain Oussera Air Base. The UAV came down 100 metres short of the runway whilst preparing to land.
In spite of the crashes, Algeria is apparently still very interested in acquiring the CH-4 (Cai Hong 4 or Rainbow 4), which appears to have been inspired by the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper. The UAV, with a takeoff weight of 1.3 tons and a payload of 350 kg, has a wingspan of 18 metres and a length of 8.5 metres. Top speed is 235 km/h and operational altitude is 3000-3500 metres, according to officially released data, while combat radius is 2000 km and endurance is 36 hours.
CAAA technical staff claim the CH-4 has four hard points capable of carrying two AR-1 laser-guided missiles and two FT-5 small guided bombs.
The CH-4 was first seen at the Zuhai airshow in 2012 and in the absence of Chinese military interest it seems the aircraft is aimed at the export market.
Algeria has reportedly also been in discussions with China over the purchase of Xianglong unmanned aerial vehicles. Echorouk quoted an unnamed Algerian defence ministry colonel as saying that the UAV was successfully tested in Tamanrasset, southern Algeria, last year.
The Xianglong (Soar Dragon) is a jet-powered High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) aircraft designed by the Guizhou Aircraft Corporation of China, initially for use by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force. The Xianglong has a length of 14 metres, a height of 5 metres and a wingspan of 25 metres. It has a top speed of 750 km/h, endurance of up to 10 hours, and a maximum range of 7 000 km.
Tactical Weekly earlier this year reported that the Algerian Defence Ministry is said to have decided to go ahead with a programme to buy 90 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including attack UAVs.
Last year, Algeria expressed interest in the Adcom Systems Yabhon United 40 Block 5 UAV from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to meet its Medium-Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) requirement. According to Algerian daily El Watan, Algeria is negotiating with Russia to purchase 30 E95 unmanned aerial vehicles/target drones from Russia.
Algeria is looking for aerial reconnaissance platforms to track down various Maghreb-based terrorist groups, drug and arms traffickers and militants who have taken advantage of post-war chaos in Mali and Libya to destabilise the Sahel-Maghreb region.
Algeria currently flies Denel Seeker II UAVs and is believed to have ordered one new Seeker 400 system with three aircraft. The Seeker 400 is currently undergoing flight testing.
The North African country has previously expressed interest in General Atomics Predator/Reaper UAVs. It also has six King Air 350ER surveillance aircraft fitted with Gabbiano T-200 radars, Wescam Mx15i infrared cameras and other features for maritime and ground surveillance.
Since war clouds started gathering over northern Mali in November 2012, the Algerian army has deployed more than 12 000 personnel to secure the borders with Mali, Libya and Niger.
Algeria has increased its defence budget for 2014 and is actively seeking new tankers, transports, helicopters and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft. Last year Algeria evaluated the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport and Airbus A330 MRTT tanker with an eye to replacing ageing Il-78 Midas tankers and acquiring a new transport aircraft. Algeria asked the two respective companies to conduct demonstrations, indicating the seriousness of these potential contracts.
Algeria is growing its defence spending by 6% through 2017, according to some estimates, as it modernises and re-equips to meet the challenge of insecurity and terrorism in the region.