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Video released by China Academy of Electronics and Information Technology, who carried out the military drone exercise last month. Footage shows the “suicide” devices launching out of the back of a lorry before flying explosives to a target. It comes as China has ramped up military drills in the South China Sea, using drones in exercises over the Taiwan Strait. Drones have also been used by the US in the Middle East to remotely carry out attacks.
CETC’s video of the drill showed 48 attack drones swarm out of the back of a lorry to overwhelm a target.
The tests mark the first ever practical Chinese swarming drone system.
Drones from the lorry are launched with compressed air before using an electric propeller to fly to their target.
They carry highly explosive charges designed to rip through tanks and other armoured vehicles.
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Video footage reveals the design for the drones is similar to China Poly Defence’s existing CH-901 munitions.
The explosive drones were launched in 2016, and have been deployed by China on ships and on their borders.
In 2018, China released a fearsome video displaying a vehicle with eight of the drones prepped for launch
While details on the new drone system are unknown, the CH-901 can fly for over two hours at speeds between 40 to 75 mph.
Paul Scharre, former senior Pentagon official and expert on drone warfare, said the video showed huge progress for China’s drone programme.
He said to the Times: “We can’t see from the Chinese video whether the drones are communicating and co-ordinating with each other.
“It could just be a launch of drones like the launch of missiles from a multiple-launch rocket system.
“However, the test shows that China is developing swarm drone systems and they could be operational in a few years.”
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China is one of the world’s largest producers and suppliers of drones for military and commercial purposes.
Earlier this week, Chinese police used drones to capture footage of an alleged drug deal.
State media video showed the suspects followed by the drone before officers swooped in to arrest them.
Social media users were divided, with one WeChat user saying there was “nowhere left to hide”.
China’s drones are also being used as a central part of simulated military drills for an invasion if Taiwan.
State broadcaster CCTV showed swarms of drones being used in drills on an island near the Taiwan Strait on the country’s National Day.
In retaliation to China’s increased usage, the US has announced plans to sell huge amounts of military drones to Taiwan.
Officials told Congress on Tuesday the Trump administration would sell MQ-9 drones to Taiwan, along with a coastal missile system to defend from Chinese fighter jets.
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