Blog entry by Bruce McPherson
The country of Jordan is experiencing some serious buyer's remorse.
At least one buyer of China’s copy of the famous Predator is none too happy. Jordan is selling off its fleet of CH-4B “Rainbow” drones after owning them for just two years. The Middle Eastern kingdom was reportedly not happy with the drones’ performance and is seeking to unload them at auction.
The CH-4B drones first surfaced in public media in 2016. Built by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC), the CH-4B appears very similar to the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper armed unmanned aerial vehicle. The CH-4B also carried some impressive specs, with Popular Mechanics noting in July 2016 it could carry, “up to 770 pounds of munitions, including the Blue Arrow 7 laser-guided air-to-surface missile, TG-100 laser, inertial or GPS-guided bombs, and the HJ-10 anti-tank missile.” The Chinese drone could also fly for up to 14 hours, loitering over mission areas for the better part of the day.
As late as last year pundits were already calling China a winner of the rush to sell armed drones abroad, as U.S. red tape can often hold up arms sales for years. China does not have that problem and has sold the CH-4B to numerous countries, including Algeria, Nigeria, Jordan, Zambia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, and Myanmar.
But there's one problem: CASTC has an inferior drone problem. According to FlightGlobal, Jordan has complained about its drone fleet since 2018. The Royal Jordanian Air Force declined to go into specifics as to why the CH-4B is let down, but simply said it was downsizing and removing several types of aircraft from its fleet. According to Shepard Media, as late as November 2018, Jordan admitted it was “not happy with the aircraft’s performance and was looking to retire them.”
If you’re interested in a Chinese drone fleet of your own, bidding for the CH-4Bs ends on July 1st.By Kyle Mizokami