Chinese new KVD2002 reconnaissance and combat drone likely used in PLA exercises near Taiwan

The unveiling of an innovative Chinese Ground Force asset, reportedly named KVD002, has garnered attention due to its advanced capabilities. Sources indicate that this unmanned reconnaissance and strike aircraft has been actively engaged in operations near Taiwan since 2022, as reported by EurAsian Times.

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Chinese new KVD2002 reconnaissance and combat drone likely used in multiple PLA large exercises near Taiwan   KVD002 reconnaissance and combat drone (Picture source: People's Daily via Asia Times)

Classified as a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAS, the KVD002 has been armed with two AR-1 air-to-surface missiles attached to its wing pylons, in addition to reconnaissance instrumentation beneath its primary structure. This potent combination enables the KVD002 to effectively execute strikes against a range of targets, including enemy air defense systems, armored assets, and fortified structures. Furthermore, it possesses the capacity to collaborate with helicopters for reconnaissance purposes, provide escort services, offer target guidance, and autonomously carry out reconnaissance and strikes. Impressively, Chinese state media asserts that the KVD002 is capable of short takeoffs and landings on elevated plateaus, suggesting its potential deployment against specific adversaries, such as India.

Despite the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Army not officially divulging the origin of the KVD002, Chinese state media reports hint at its likely association with the Cai Hong 4 (CH-4) Rainbow, a drone produced by the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). Notably, the KVD002 bears a striking resemblance to the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Reaper drone.

Nonetheless, EurAsian Times comments, neither the PLA Army nor the manufacturer have issued official statements regarding the connection between the KVD002 and the CH-4. It is widely speculated that the KVD002 represents a specialized variant derived from the highly regarded CH-4, specifically tailored to meet the unique demands of the PLA Army. An account from the Chinese media outlet Global Times, drawing insights from Chinese experts, strongly suggests that the KVD002, operating as a CH-4 under a different designation, has likely been conducting patrols and strategic exercises around Taiwan since 2022.

Starting in September 2022, despite limited prior knowledge of the KVD002, the defense authorities on Taiwan Island occasionally documented sightings of CH-4 armed reconnaissance drones during routine PLA patrols and exercises near the island. The situation took a noteworthy turn on September 17, 2023, when a CH-4 was observed in the vicinity of Taiwan, marking the first confirmed deployment of its kind in the region. Chinese military aviation expert Fu Qianshao conveyed, "The newly introduced KVD002 can conduct reconnaissance missions around Taiwan and execute precise strikes when needed."