New Chinese drone could confuse enemy defences by splitting in two

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The structure, which could split into two, three or even six smaller drones in an instant, was inspired by the unique structure of the sheep’s stomach, similar to some previous developments. Over the weekend, the South China Morning Post reported on the development of a new military drone that can quickly split into two, three or even six separate units while still in the air, attacking enemies in swarms.

The structure, created by scientists at the Nanking University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, is said to be inspired by the structure of a maple tree’s core, and despite its unusual shape, it flies more efficiently than multi-rotor drones of similar size. The structures have a single blade and can communicate with each other to perform specific roles – command, reconnaissance, tracking, attack – to cooperate in mission accomplishment.

According to a study published last month on the development, soldiers equipped with the new drones can separate them to adapt them to their missions, and the main advantage of the solution is said to be that it can confuse air defences.

As an expert explained to Business Insider, such systems allocate a set amount of resources in proportion to the threat, and if the threat suddenly multiplies, it provides the opportunity for overload. That said, he does not believe that if a conflict were to break out tomorrow, the new development would give the Chinese military a tactical advantage.

There have been many so far

Although Chinese technological developments often appear to be a “black box”, it is unlikely that the announcement of a discovery will be followed by its rapid deployment. Interestingly, the significance of the issue is diminished by the huge Chinese capacity: more than 2,000 (!) companies in the country develop and manufacture drones, essentially controlling the relevant supply chains and producing them at a lower cost than others. In other words, even without the new technology, China can produce enough drones for military use to overwhelm any defence system.

The emergence of small and costly drones is thus forcing everyone to modernise their defences: the BI article reveals that in the 2025 budget, the US military has also requested $2.4 billion for the development of unmanned aircraft and a further $400 million for technology that can be deployed against drones. SCMP recalls that models similar to the above have been developed in Western countries, albeit without large-scale practical applications.

The new Chinese device is similar to Lockheed Martin’s Samarai monocopter, but like a boomerang, it can be launched manually and has a higher level of autonomy in addition to its payload.


Source: South China Morning Post | businessinsider.com

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