WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Iraq's Ministry of Defense unveiled its new China Aerospace and Technology Corporation CH-4B "Rainbow" unmanned aerial vehicle on Saturday.
Defense official Khalid al-Obeidi said the UAV took off for its first combat mission against the Islamic State, radical Sunni militants also known as Daesh and by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL. The UAV closely resembles the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems' Predator models used by the United States. China showcased the craft at Airshow China in Shuhai in 2014.
The CH-4 is almost identical to the Predator B, designated MQ-9 Reaper by the U.S. Air Force and Royal Air Force, and features the largest fixed wing in the Rainbow series. The UAV is designed for surveillance missions, but can be armed for combat as well. The craft is able to fire an air-to-ground missile from over 16,000 feet in the air.
According to China Aerospace and Technology Corporation (CASC), the craft is fitted for high-altitude missions over land and sea, and features a payload capacity of 253 pounds with a maximum takeoff weight of 2,770 pounds.
CASC is a state-owned enterprise in China used for research, design, manufacturing, and launch of space systems. The company also develops tactical missiles, and provides commercial satellite launch services. The company reported a total ofabout $294 billion in 2013.