China's Sunflower 200 Drone: A Close Replica of Iran's Shahed 136

In a world increasingly dominated by sophisticated technology, drone warfare has emerged as an emblem of contemporary combat.

by Faruk Imamovic
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China's Sunflower 200 Drone: A Close Replica of Iran's Shahed 136
© khamenei.ir

In a world increasingly dominated by sophisticated technology, drone warfare has emerged as an emblem of contemporary combat. Recent developments from China's military sectors confirm this trend, with the nation unveiling its own version of the well-known Iranian drone, the HESA Shahed 136.

Unmasking the Sunflower 200

Dubbed the Sunflower 200, this Chinese invention has been described as being of "extreme quality", mirroring many of the features of its Iranian counterpart. Its public debut at a military exhibition in China drew attention from defense analysts and policymakers worldwide, who expressed concerns over the evident rise of such drones in international arenas.

For those unfamiliar, the HESA Shahed 136, known as Geran-2 in Russian service, originates from Iran's Shahed Aviation Industries. It was primarily designed as an autonomous drone to target ground entities from afar. The unique launching approach involves propelling five or more drones in rapid succession, with the intent to outpace and deplete enemy air defenses.

This revolutionary drone first caught the world's eye in December 2021, when footage of its operation was made public. The engineering finesse of the Shahed 136 is evident in its elegant wing design, ensuring enhanced flight stability.

Further, it is equipped with stabilizing rudders at its tips, granting impeccable control. Nestled in the nose of the drone is a formidable warhead, weighing between 30 to 50 kilograms. The drone itself weighs 200 kg, boasts a speed exceeding 185 km/h, and has a commendable range of up to 2,500 kilometers.

The Chinese Counterpart: Differences and Similarities

While the Sunflower 200 weighs slightly less than the Shahed 136 at 175 kilograms, it mimics the latter's payload, dimensions, and range. Additionally, its disclosed fuel capacity of 160 liters offers an intriguing insight into the potential fuel capacity of the Iranian original.

The deployment system for these drones is notably versatile. It's designed to be portable, easily attachable to both military and commercial vehicles. Launching the drone involves a slight upward tilt, assisted by RATO (Rocket Assisted Take Off).

The Iranian drone employs a Mado MD-550 four-cylinder engine post-launch, and speculations suggest the Sunflower 200 might operate on a similar mechanism.

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