China is adding another powerful weapon to their collection as they showcase how powerful their newly launched FH-901 suicide drone is during their live-firing event.
The video published on a State-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation in Beijing showed live-fire shooting exercises by armed “reconnaissance drones like the CH-4 and the CH-5,” according to reports. The rare footage showcases the FH-901 and the CH-10 tilt-rotor drone in action.
The video starts off with two soldiers positioning their FH-901, and as it locks on the tank target, the drone is seen completely obliterating the tank. Observers have compared the FH-901’s prowess to the US-developed Switchblade suicide drone, which had red been used in successful campaigns in Ukraine during their counteroffensive with Russian forces. The FH-901 took off at the weight of 19.84 lbs. and carries an additional 7.7 lbs. warhead.
The said suicide drone has a lighter version, the FH-901A. It weighs only 7.7 lbs and carries a 1.1 lbs warhead. It is equipped with an EO-IR reconnaissance payload as its targeting system and has a data link operating over a distance of 9.3 miles. The battery can sustain a mission for over 60 missions, with a loitering altitude of 100-150 meters above the ground. It also uses electro-optical guidance to score hits 0.00124274 miles away.
The FH-901 loiter munition or suicide drone
These weapons are light enough to be deployed at the company level
This is perhaps the most visual demonstration of how industrial prowess decides the outcome of wars.
Make enough of these, no enemy can survive in the open pic.twitter.com/AqXzSZoCNK
— Zhao DaShuai 无条件爱国🇨🇳 (@obsidianstatue1) September 9, 2022
The FH-901 and FH-901A were supposedly planned for counterinsurgency and special operations, but “China has other plans for this weapon,” according to reports.
“In 2020, CETIC released a video showing a pneumatic swarm launcher packing 48 drones and the Feihong 97 jet-powered stealth UAV. Overall, the elements of the Chinese swarm attack weapon systems are strikingly familiar – FH901 bears many similarities to the Aerovironment Switchblade 600, the Chinese Feihong 97 resembles the Kratos XQ-58 Valkyrie, and the swarm launcher looks like a sibling to Raytheon’s launcher designed and tested to deploy a swarm of dozens of Coyote drones.”
How Does it compare to US Suicide Drones?
Chinese reports noted that the FH-901 is almost similar to our switchblade suicide drones. AeroVironment Switchblade is the most-used loitering munition used by several branches of the military. It is small enough to fit in a backpack but powerful enough to squash targets from miles away.
In 2011, the Switchblade 300 was introduced, and a newer version, the Switchblade 600, with an anti-armor variant, was launched in 2022. The Switchblade 600 is about 54.5 lbs and 51 inches long. It has an operational range of up to 35 miles and a flight altitude of about 500 ft.
The Department of Defense has placed an order for another 300 Switchblade-300 series for $17.8 million, which was the series donated to Ukraine during their campaign in Kharkiv Oblast early in May.
Additionally, these US suicide drones use real-time GPS coordinates and video “for precise targeting with low collateral effects.” The whole kit includes a payload, launcher, and a transport bag that weighs just about 2.5 kg. What is impressive about the Switchblade is that it can disengage or abort a mission at any time and then “recommit to another target depending on what the operator commands,” as noted in a report.
As for the FH-901 series, they have similar loitering altitudes and impact range. However, the FH-901 and FH-901A have an edge when it comes to weight. They’re lighter and more versatile. However, it also boils down to their software. Though the video of the live-fire testing shows an accurate “cut” of the soldiers targeting the tank and the suicide drone “hitting” the target, we’re not entirely sure if it was the actual chronology of events or just good editing.
Meanwhile, US Switchblade 300 Series and Switchblade 600 have both been used in active duty and have been showcased on the world stage during the Ukraine-Russia war.
However, China’s aerospace development says their FH-901s have already “participated in several recent military parades, major exercises, border military operations and anti-terrorism operations at home and abroad, in addition to playing vital roles in emergency disaster relief missions.”
Lastly, these FH-901s have reportedly been cleared for export “with excellent user feedback.”
Watch the video below:
So, in a face-to-face battle, FH-901 vs Switchblade series, which do you think will win? Send us your thoughts in the comments below!