Iraq has reportedly acquired an unspecified number of Chinese CH-5 attack-reconnaissance drones considered a competitor to the American Reaper armed-recon UAV.
Multiple Osint experts posted today on X images of a CH-5 UAV “theoretical, practical and flight training certificate” signed jointly by the CH UAV Science and Technology Co., Ltd, and Office of the Military Attache, Embassy of Iraq in China. Certain parts of the “certificate” have been blurred. The veracity of this document cannot be confirmed.
In April of this year, Iraqi Army Aviation Command (IAAC) reportedly expressed interest in acquiring an undisclosed quantity of CH-5 combat drones from China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). They also revealed plans to procure spare parts for their existing CH4B UCAV fleet, obtained in 2015.
Similar to the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper drone, the CH5 boasts an impressive range exceeding 10,000 kilometers and a remarkable 60-hour flight endurance. This drone can carry up to 16 missiles, boasting a payload capacity of 3 tonnes. Notably, the CH5 is equipped with a heavy-fuel engine, significantly enhancing its endurance and operational range.
Iraq initially incorporated its predecessor, the CH4B armed drones, into its arsenal in 2015 to combat the insurgency by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The CH-4Bs serve as versatile attack and reconnaissance systems, capable of carrying payloads of up to 345 kilograms and six missiles.
The Inspector General's fourth-quarter report for 2022 advised the Iraqi Joint Operation Command (JOC-I) to utilize alternative Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs), including the U.S.-produced Scan Eagle and the Chinese-produced CH4, during adverse weather. Inclement weather during the same period negatively impacted the frequency of Iraqi UAS flights.
Notably, the Iraqi Ministry of Defence revealed in 2022 that the CH4s had been placed in storage between 2017 and August 2022. On August 8, 2022, the Iraqi Army Aviation Command (IAAC) reintroduced its first CH-4 UAV into service. Juma Enad Saadoun, the Minister of Defence at the time, confirmed that a contract with the Chinese manufacturer had been signed in 2021 to bring them back into active duty.