UAV Technology’s Rainbow-4 drone completed an important test flight in a sign the construction of the large and medium-sized civil drone plant in Taizhou, Zhegiang province has concluded its gearing-up phase, Yicai Global reported.

The first domestically-developed Rainbow-4 drone was successfully assembled at the base and delivered after the test flight to Taizhou Airport.

The maiden flight lasted 48 minutes and covered 95 kilometers, which met the aircraft’s design requirements, Aerospace CH UAV, the parent company, said in a statement.

The drone will be the first delivery in a contract Rainbow UAV Technology and National Geomatics Center of China concluded in November, which has a value of 157 million yuan (US$22.2 million) and which includes seven emergency mapping drones, per the statement.

The Taizhou facility, which will complete equipment commissioning and start trial production by the end of this year, will boost the company’s medium and large drone production capacity, per the statement, which offered no further details.

Aerospace CH (Caihong) UAV is one of the few Chinese companies that has mastered large and medium sized civil drone technologies and translated these into production. The company showcased its CH series military drones at the 12th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai last year.

The firm changed its name from Nanyang Technology to its current one in December.

Equipped with satellite control and improved electronic payloads, the drone is capable of precisely striking a targeted area with a margin of error of less than 1.5 meters, sources say.

China has found success in producing both strike-capable systems and systems for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, China Power reported.

A 2018 US Department of Defense report noted that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force “is closing the gap with the US Air Force across a spectrum of capabilities, gradually eroding longstanding US technical advantages.”

The report also stated that the “PLAAF continues to modernize with the delivery of indigenous manned aircraft and a wide range of UAVs.”

Its world-leading Wing Loong and Caihong series have become popular exports to militaries around the globe, particularly to the Middle East and North Africa.

Its fleet of reconnaissance drones includes the High Altitude Long Endurance Soaring Dragon and Cloud Shadow, the report said.

While there are no reports of the Chinese military carrying out drone strikes, Beijing has utilized drones in a number of non-combat scenarios.

Following the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake, China used drones to support various humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations. Chinese law enforcement has also employed drones to conduct surveillance operations in Xinjiang, the China Power report said.

In October 2017, China carried out a test flight of an amphibious drone that could potentially ferry supplies to military installations in the South China Sea.

More recently, In September 2019, China’s Ministry of Natural Resources deployed a network of drones to the South China Sea to surveil and establish a drone communication system of air and land-based UAVs.