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China Shows a Shahed-136 Copy Called Sunflower 200, and It's Serious Threat

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Illustrative photo: iranian Shahed-136 at a military base in iran / Archive photo from iranian public media
Illustrative photo: iranian Shahed-136 at a military base in iran / Archive photo from iranian public media

The new development presented at Armiya-2023 military event indicates there might be several ways for russia to get explosive drones or their parts, now from China, too

Open-source photos from the Armiya-2023 military forum in russia indicate there is an unspecified Chinese company presenting its suicide drone called Sunflower 2000. Based on its looks and declared specifications, it is basically a copy of the iranian-made Shahed-136 loitering munition.

There is a minor difference though. The Chinese engineers seem to be considering their product more high-tech than the iranian original or russian substitute which makes it more convenient for practical use.

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Sunflower 200 fact sheet presented at the Armiya-2023 military forum in russia, August 2023
Sunflower 200 loitering munition fact sheet presented at the Armiya-2023 military forum in russia, August 2023. Key specifications mentioned below / Open source photo

For example, the Chinese Sunflower 200 is declared to have a 3.2 meters (10 feet) long fuselage and 2.5 m (8 feet) wingspan, and a warhead of 40 kg. Different sources mention the attack range of 1,500 or 2,000 km, cruising speed ranges from 160 to 220 km/h. These specifications are more or less similar to those featured by Shahed-136, which also carries the name of Geran-2 in russia.

At the same time, the launch weight of Sunflower 200 is only 175 kg compared to the known 240 kg of Shahed-136. This difference enables the Chinese drone to take off vertically, most likely without using a solid-fuel booster which is necessary for the original Shahed.

Scale-model of the carrier-launcher of the Sunflower 200. Armiya-2023 military forum in russia, August 2023
Scale model of the carrier-launcher vehicle for the Sunflower 200 loitering munition. Armiya-2023 military forum in russia, August 2023 / Open source photo

Another notable detail is the stated fuel capacity of the Sunflower 200: 10 kg or 160 liters. There is no such information about the Shahed-136 as of yet.

It is currently unknown what will be or are the rates of production for the new loitering munition manufactured by China, and most importantly, how many of them are offered to russia at this military-tech event. But the fact itself that such an alternative to the iranian weapon appeared is threatening in itself.

Apart from directly buying the ready-made explosive drones, russia can find help in acquiring components for their own Shahed-136 production that has been established on the territory of the russian federation and already brought the first drones for the strikes on Ukraine.

Sunflower 200 loitering munition presentation at the Armiya-2023 military forum in russia, August 2023
Sunflower 200 loitering munition presentation at the Armiya-2023 military forum in russia, August 2023 / Open source photo
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