The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Army has been employing the KVD002 armed reconnaissance drone for patrols and exercises in the vicinity of Taiwan since 2022, initially identified as CH-4.
Recently, during the 6th China Helicopter Exposition held in North China's Tianjin Municipality from September 14-17, 2023, it was revealed that the KVD002 is, in fact, a specialized variant of the renowned CH-4, tailored specifically for the PLA Army.
At the expo, observers noted that the aerodynamic design of the KVD002 on display closely resembled that of the CH-4. Furthermore, it was equipped with the AR-1 air-to-ground missile, which was also developed by Aerospace CH UAV, the company responsible for the CH drone series. Up to this point, neither the PLA Army nor Aerospace CH UAV have officially commented on the relationship between the KVD002 and the CH-4.
Since September 2022, Taiwan's defense authority has sporadically reported the presence of CH-4 armed reconnaissance drones during PLA patrols and exercises around the island. These activities have occasionally featured Z-10 attack helicopters and PLA Army's KVD001 reconnaissance drones.
The CH-4 has demonstrated its capabilities internationally, making it a logical choice for domestic users like the PLA Army, according to Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert. Fu also stated that the KVD002 can carry out reconnaissance missions around Taiwan and execute precision strikes when necessary.
Before being commissioned as the KVD002 by the PLA Army, more than 200 units of the CH-4 were sold on the global market as of November 2022, as confirmed by Aerospace CH UAV company at that time. Another notable Chinese drone series, the Wing Loong, has been incorporated into the PLA Air Force and designated as GJ.
Chinese military expert and TV commentator Song Zhongping revealed that the PLA Army, Air Force, and Navy have all adopted drones and utilized them in exercises around Taiwan. Analysts highlight China's diverse drone industry, which offers a wide range of products, including both large and small drones, as well as technologically advanced and cost-effective options, from various suppliers spanning the aviation, aerospace, weapons, and private sectors. This diversity allows different military services and branches to select the most suitable products for their specific requirements.
A description provided at the helicopter expo outlines the capabilities of the KVD002 as the PLA Army's first armed reconnaissance drone. It can execute precision strikes against hostile air defense systems, armored targets, and fortifications, following air-ground integration plans. Moreover, it can collaborate with helicopters by providing reconnaissance data, escorting them, offering target guidance, and functioning independently for reconnaissance and strikes. The KVD002 is known for its outstanding overall performance, ease of operation and maintenance, adaptability for additional missions, and the ability to conduct short takeoffs and landings in plateau regions. This versatility indicates that the KVD002 is intended for use in various terrains throughout the country, not limited to the Taiwan Straits, as noted by observers.