The Indonesian Ministry of Defence (MoD) in Jakarta announced on 25 August that the Indonesian Air Force’s fleet of CH-4B unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) has formally received military airworthiness certification. The CH-4B will serve with Squadron 51, which is based at the Supadio airbase in Pontianak, near West Kalimantan. The delivery in April 2021 of a first batch of Chinese-made AR-2 air-to-surface precision-guided missiles to arm the CH-4Bs suggests an operational role for the medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned combat aerial vehicles (MALE UCAVs). The Indonesian Air Force also test-fired the AR-1 missiles from its CH-4 UAVs in 2019.
Cai Hong, abbreviated as CH is a series of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) developed by the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics, an entity under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). Externally, CH-4 looks almost identical to General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, and the only distinct visual difference between two UAVs is that the ventral fin below the V-tail on MQ-9 is absent on CH-4. There are two versions, the CH-4A and CH-4B. The CH-4A is a reconnaissance drone (capable of a 3500–5000 km range and a 30-40-hour endurance) while the CH-4B is a mixed attack and reconnaissance system with provisions for 6 weapons and a payload of up to 250 to 345 kg.
CH-4 is capable of firing air-to-ground missile from altitude of 5,000 meters (~16,400 feet), therefore the aircraft can stay outside of effective range of most anti-aircraft guns. It also allows CH-4 to be able to fire from a position that provides wider viewing area. The CH-4B UCAV also has been exported to Myanmar, Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Iraq. Myanmar is also producing CH-4 UAV under license with the transfer of technology. Iraq has received an unknown number of CH-4B in early 2015, spurred on battlefield reversals in Mosul and Ramadi to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The Indonesian Air Force currently operates a fleet of six CH-4 unmanned combat aerial vehicles, the first two of which made their public debut in October 2019 during a parade to mark the 74th anniversary of the Indonesian Armed Forces. Indonesia can now be included on the list of countries producing long-range military drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles. Various companies in Indonesia have been producing drones for both civilian and military purposes. Elang Hitam is an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) being developed by PT Dirgantara Indonesia (IAe). The specification is said to match the Chinese-made CH-4 Rainbow drone.