ua en ru

China developing new attack drone for Russia similar to Shahed, Bloomberg

China developing new attack drone for Russia similar to Shahed, Bloomberg Photo: Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin (getty images)

Chinese and Russian companies are developing a strike drone similar to the Iranian kamikaze drone Shahed, which is being used against Ukraine, according to Bloomberg.

According to the agency, in 2023, companies from the Russian Federation and China held negotiations on cooperation to copy the Iranian Shahed drone, and this year began the development and testing of a version for preparation for dispatch to Russia.

At the same time, Bloomberg sources say that Chinese drones will not yet be used in Ukraine.

Some countries believe that providing Russia with UAVs for attack purposes will cross the line of lethal assistance, against which Chinese officials have repeatedly been warned by the West, two officials said.

One person familiar with the matter said that, according to US estimates, China is weighing whether to send fully built drones but, in the meantime, is sending "kits that can be converted into attack drones." The US still does not believe that China is sending lethal aid to Russia, a source said, noting that other countries may have a different interpretation.

According to officials, one concern is that China can produce a drone similar to Shahed much faster than Iran or Russia.

Officials did not identify this drone, but Chinese defense websites and several media outlets reported that the country is developing a kamikaze strike drone called the Sunflower 200, which looks similar to the Iranian Shahed 136 drone.

China-Russia military cooperation

The US does not believe that China is providing lethal weapons to Russia but is convinced that China is sending components to Russia that Moscow uses to produce weapons.

China rejects all accusations of supporting Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine, saying that normal economic cooperation continues between the countries.

Providing Russia with a Shahed-type strike drone would signify deepening support for Russia by Beijing, despite repeated warnings from the US and its allies.

Since the beginning of the war, Russia has used thousands of Shahed drones against Ukraine, even building a factory for their mass production.

But Russia still relies on supplies from countries such as North Korea and Iran, and on China for important parts and components.

In April, Bloomberg News reported that China is providing Russia with satellite imagery for military purposes, microelectronics, and machine tools for tanks, as well as a range of technologies used in weapons or needed for their production.

Recently, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that Chinese assistance plays a key role in Russia's war against Ukraine. Over the past year, 90% of the microelectronics imported by the Russian Federation came from China.