China Replicates Iran’s ‘Shahed-136’ Kamikaze Drone

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It appears that China has developed its own version of Iran’s ‘Shahed 136’ drone, as reported by Defense Express. Called the “Sunflower 200,” it was first showcased at China’s ‘Army-2023’ exhibition. It is allegedly an extremely close copy of the original Iranian drone, which has raised concerns about the proliferation of such drones.

According to Interesting Engineering, the HESA “Shahed 136” is an Iranian autonomous drone designed and manufactured by Shahed Aviation Industries to function as a loitering munition, which is meant to attack ground targets from a distance. It has increased flight stability, a powerful warhead in the nose section that weighs up to 50 kilograms. Weighing about 200 kg, the drone can fly at speeds of over 185 kph, has a wingspan of 2.5 meters, and has a range of up to 2,500 kilometers.

This new Chinese version weighs around 175 kilograms but appears to have similar overall dimensions, range, and payload capacity. The launch frame and drone assembly of the Iranian drone are reportedly portable, which means the unit can be mounted on any military or commercial truck. After launch, the drone’s engine takes over to power the drone when loitering. It can be assumed that the Chinese version is deployed similarly.

It is currently unclear how many and how quickly China will manufacture its new ‘Sunflower 200’ drones, but also unclear if they are intended for military purposes only or will be exported to the Russian Federation. Defense Express notes that regardless of the specifics, this indicates that Russian army forces now have multiple potential suppliers for these deadly loitering munitions.

This information was provided by Interesting Engineering.