Sudan’s small but deadly Chinese and Iranian-made drones have been making headlines recently, and for good reason. These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have the potential to turn the tide of war in Sudan, where fighting between government forces and various rebel groups has been ongoing for years.
Iran has been supplying drones to Sudan for several years now, and the country’s military has been steadily building up its drone capabilities.
The drones, which are manufactured by Iran’s Aerospace Industries Organization (HESA), come in a variety of sizes and can be used for a range of missions, from reconnaissance to attack.
One of the most deadly of these drones is the Iranian-made Ababil-3, which is a small, lightweight UAV that can carry a 45-kilogram warhead. This makes it a formidable weapon in the hands of the Sudanese military, which has been using it to target rebel positions.
The Ababil-3 is particularly effective in urban areas, where it can fly low and evade radar detection. It can also be launched from a variety of platforms, including vehicles and boats, making it a versatile weapon that can be deployed quickly and easily.
Sudan fields four Ababil-3 drones which they acquired in 2014, and 2 Ababil-2s acquired from HESA in 2011.
Another Iranian-made drones that is operated by Sudan is the Mohajer-series drones comprising of the Mohajer-2, Mohajer-4, and Mohajer-6 being the latest of them.
The Mohajer class of drones are produced by Iran’s Quds Air industries. The Qods Mohajer is a single-engine tactical unmanned aerial vehicle built in four main variants from the 1980s to the present day. The Mohajer family is primarily used for reconnaissance, and is among the most mature and well-known Iranian UAVs. Sudan acquired four Mohajer-4s in 2011, four Mohajer-2s in 2008, and four Mohajer-6s in 2016.
The latest of the series, the Mohajer-6 is capable of carrying a multi spectral surveillance payload and/or up to four precision-guided munitions. It’s has maximum takeoff weight of 600–670 kg and can carry about 100–150 kg armaments, depending on model. Also the ground control station of Mohajer-6 has 200–500 km range. It has a max speed of 200 km/h, an endurance of 12 hours, and a ceiling of 16,000-18,000 feet.
On the other hand, Sudanese forces also fields the Chinese-made Rainbow CH-3 drone. Sudan operates five of them acquired in 2015, and four CH-4s acquired in 2016.
The Rainbow CH-3 drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed and produced by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), a state-owned aerospace and defense company.
The CH-3 is a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) drone that can operate for up to 10 hours at a maximum altitude of 5,000 meters. It has a wingspan of 8.5 meters and a maximum takeoff weight of 640 kilograms.
The CH-3 drone is primarily used for reconnaissance and surveillance missions, as it is equipped with a range of sensors including electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) cameras and synthetic aperture radar (SAR). It can also carry various payloads such as missiles and bombs, making it capable of conducting offensive operations if required.
The Rainbow CH-3 has been in service with the Chinese military since 2009 and has also been exported to several countries, including Egypt and Nigeria. It is considered to be a cost-effective and versatile drone that has been used in various operations, including anti-terrorism and disaster relief efforts.
The most capable drone in the Sudanese military inventory is the Chinese-made CH-4 Rainbow combat drone.
The Chinese-made CH-4 Rainbow combat drone is a highly advanced unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed for a wide range of military operations. It is widely regarded as one of the most advanced combat drones in the world, with a range of features that make it a formidable weapon in modern warfare. The CH-4 Rainbow is capable of carrying a variety of weapons, including precision-guided bombs and missiles, and has a range of up to 5,000 kilometers. It can operate at altitudes of up to 7,200 meters, making it an effective tool for surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
The CH-4 Rainbow has been deployed in a number of conflicts around the world, including in Iraq and Syria, where it has been used to carry out airstrikes against ISIS targets. The drone has also been used by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, where it has been deployed in support of ground troops and has been used to carry out targeted assassinations of Houthi rebels. Its ability to fly for extended periods of time, and its long range, make it an effective tool for monitoring enemy movements and conducting intelligence-gathering missions.
Despite its impressive capabilities, the CH-4 Rainbow is not without its limitations. Like all drones, it is vulnerable to being shot down by anti-aircraft weapons, and there are concerns about the potential for civilian casualties when it is used in densely populated areas. However, as the technology behind the CH-4 Rainbow continues to evolve, it is likely that we will see even more advanced combat drones being developed in the coming years, which will further expand the capabilities of modern militaries.
Another Chinese drone in service with Sudan is the DB-2, although, not much is known about this UAV. However, Sudan fields five of them.
Before the conflict erupted, the Sudanese Military Industrial Complex was able to produce a vast array of small drones as well as loitering munitions.
For instance, Sudan indigenously produce the Zagil-3 UAV which is a direct copy of Iran’s HESA Ababil-3 drones. Sudan fields at least three of these acquired in 2009.
Sudan’s Military Industry Corporation (MIC) last month launched it’s indigenous Kamin-25 loitering munition designed to be launched from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
The lotering munition is currently being tested by the Sudanese Air Force on Z3-M UAVs, with final acceptance tests scheduled for May. Two Kamin-25s can be carried by the Z3-M with their wings rotated 90° along their bodies until they are released.
The use of drones in the conflict in Sudan has raised concerns about civilian casualties and the potential for human rights violations. However, the Sudanese military has stated that it is using the drones in a responsible manner and taking steps to avoid civilian casualties.
The use of drones in conflict is not new, but the proliferation of this technology in recent years has made it more accessible to smaller and less technologically advanced countries like Sudan. The use of drones has the potential to level the playing field in conflicts where one side has air superiority, and can also reduce the risk to pilots.
However, the use of drones also raises concerns about the potential for proliferation and the risk of these weapons falling into the wrong hands. The international community has called for greater regulation and oversight of the use of drones in conflict, and for efforts to prevent the spread of this technology to non-state actors and other countries.
In conclusion, Sudan’s small but deadly Chinese,Iranian-made, and indigenous drones have the potential to turn the tide of war in the country’s ongoing conflict. The use of drones in conflict is not new, but their accessibility and versatility have made them an increasingly popular weapon in the arsenal of smaller countries. The use of drones in conflict raises concerns about the potential for civilian casualties and human rights violations, and highlights the need for greater regulation and oversight of this technology.