In September 2020, China reportedly carried out a test involving the launch of a 48-strong suicide drone swarm.
The UAVs were launched from a truck, as well as helicopters.
Reports of this, however, surfaced on October 13th.
The China Academy of Electronics and Information Technology (CAEIT) developed the drone swarm, and it is owned by China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC), which carried out a record-breaking drone swarm experiment in June 2017, involving nearly 120 small fixed-wing unmanned aircraft.
Back then, months later, CAEIT carried out its own test involving 200 drones.
CAEIT, filiale du groupe électronicien CETC, a testé en Septembre son système opérationnel de déploiement, des essaims de #drones à voilure fixe, sur une plateforme mobile et sur un hélicoptère.
En Novembre 2017, CAEIT a fait voler 200 drones à voilure fixe simultanément. pic.twitter.com/qONwQ8f5aE
— East Pendulum (@HenriKenhmann) October 13, 2020
There is very little information regarding the system, there is no known name or designation, or specification.
Video footage shows that the unmanned aircraft are very similar in form and function to more recent models of China Poly Defense’s CH-901 loitering munition.
When the tube-launched CH-901 first emerged in 2016, it featured a pair of pop-out wings, as well as a folding v-tail.
In 2020, it seems like the design has evolved and replaced the v-tail with another set of pop-out wings and folding twin-tail arrangement, similar to the drones we see in the CAEIT test video.
CAEIT’s test also involved at least one drone launched from a tube mounted on a Bell 206L helicopter, as well as one that popped out of a tube dropped from a what appears to be a Robinson R-series helicopter.
According to the Drive, this is also very similar to Raytheon’s Coyote.
The Coyote comparison also extends to launch options CAEIT demonstrated in its recent test.
The 48-tube ground-based launcher, which is mounted on a modified 6×6 version of the Dongfeng Mengshi light tactical vehicle, is similar in some respects to multi-tube trail-mounted launchers that the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research used to launch Coyotes as part of its Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology (LOCUST) effort, as seen in the video below.
Poly Defense has also shown at least a mock-up of an array of tubular launchers for the CH-901.
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