Algeria purchases six Chinese CH-5 Rainbow combat drone

Algeria announced on January 24 that the Algerian Armed Forces confirmed the order for 6 China’s “CH-5” Rainbow UCAV.

According to the Arms Trade Database of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), China has already delivered five CH-3 and five CH-4 armed drones in 2018. Algeria has also ordered the Wing Loong-2, and by the end of 2022  Algerian armed forces will have around 60 combat drones.

“CH-5” is a reconnaissance and combat drone developed and produced by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. The CH-5 is the latest UCAV of the Rainbow series. The UAV completed its maiden flight in August 2015 and made its debut to the public during the 2016 Zhuhai Air Show.

“CH-5” has a maximum take-off weight of more than 3 tons and can carry 1,000 kg of equipment and weapons and ammunition, including airborne early warning systems and electronic warfare equipment. The airborne time can reach more than 30 hours. At the 2021 Air Show, Aerospace Science and Technology Group demonstrated the CH-5 UAV, which can carry 16 air-to-surface missiles.

It is not clear which kind of Rainbow-5 UAV Algeria purchased. Previously China revealed that the improved CH-5 uses a heavy fuel engine that extends the CH-5’s endurance to 60 hours and its range to over 10,000 kilometers. This constitutes approximately a 20 to 30 percent increase

Earlier Algeria, a regular customer of Chinese weapons, has purchased two Chinese-made drones, the Rainbow 3 and the upgraded Rainbow 4 drone. These drones have been officially delivered to the Algerian armed forces.

Currently, the arms race in North Africa continues. According to a report by the North Africa Post on December 21, the Moroccan army has received the first batch of Chinese FD-2000B long-range air defense systems and deployed them at the Sidi Yahya military base, about 50 kilometers north of the capital. 

Algeria and Morocco have long had tensions over Western Sahara. In recent years, the defense expenditures of Morocco and Afghanistan have increased year by year. On August 24 this year, Algerian Foreign Minister Ramdane Lamamra announced at a press conference that it would cut diplomatic relations with Morocco, further escalating tensions.

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