Watch: China shows copycat of Switchblade loitering munition

BEIJING ($1=6.93 Chinese Yuans) — New Chinese loitering munitions were introduced in China. It is about the FH-901 Bircher suicide drone. This munition was developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. A video showing the use of the FH-901 Bircher was shared on social media.

Watch: China shows copycat of Switchblade loitering munition
Video screenshot collage

At first glance, the FH-901 Bircher is a complete copy of the American loitering munition Switchblade. At least in appearance, it is, but experts still refrain from characterizing it as a complete imitation.

The video shows the operation of the FH-901 Bircher. A soldier deploys an easily portable ground mount. Next is launching the drone and deploying its wings [external design and action completely similar to the Switchblade]. The drone detects a tank located at a distance from the ground installation and crashes into it, activating the warhead projectile.

Sources claim that the warhead of the drone weighs only 3.5 kg, while the loitering munition itself is no more than 9 kg. The maximum operational range of the FH-901 Bircher is 15 km, which makes it very suitable for use in urban combat conditions. According to sources, 60 minutes is the maximum time the munition can fly. 100-150 meters is the maximum height the drone can fly. The maximum speed it can develop is 288 km/h, sources say, while the cruising speed is 100 km/h.

If we make a comparison with the American drone Switchblade has technical characteristics through which each one surpasses its opponent. Apart from appearance, however, the two loitering munitions differ. The Switchblade comes in two versions [Switchblade 300 and Switchblade 600] weighing 2.5kg and 24.7kg respectively. Apparently, the Chinese drone is designed to be the middleweight between its two American counterparts.

Watch: China shows copycat of Switchblade loitering munition
Video screenshot

There are also differences in the maximum operational strike range. The FH-901 Bircher beats the Switchblade 300 [10km], but can’t reach the Switchblade 600 version’s 40km range. Both versions of the American original fly at a greater height than 150 meters. As for maximum flight speed, the Chinese copycat is faster than both [Switchblade 300 reaches 160 km/h and Switchblade 600 reaches 185 km/h].

Currently, only a ground-launched version of the FH-901 Bircher is known. But sources say China will develop a fighter-launched version.


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