China’s recent testing of its XS101 loitering munition, colloquially known as a ‘kamikaze drone’, has drawn significant attention. The striking resemblance of this weapon system to the US-made Switchblade 300 is indicative of China’s advancements in unmanned aerial systems technology.

The XS101, developed by AOMEI technology, mirrors the design and launch mechanism of the American Switchblade 300, right down to the bazooka-style launcher. This similarity underscores the shared technological approaches between China and the U.S. in drone launch systems.

The XS101’s performance is impressive. Launched from an altitude of 4,600 meters, it demonstrated remarkable precision in hitting its target. A nose-mounted camera provides real-time visual feedback to operators, enabling accurate navigation and target tracking.

What distinguishes the XS101 is its autonomous navigation capability. It can follow a pre-set path towards a target or location without constant human intervention. However, operators can intervene, alter courses, or abort missions in response to unexpected situations, such as the presence of civilians in the target area.

The resemblance between the XS101 and the US-made Switchblade 300 underscores China’s progress in advanced drone technology. However, China is not alone in this race. Russia has also been observed replicating the American kamikaze drone.

Images circulating online show Russia’s version of the loitering munition, the BAS-80, which bears a striking resemblance to the American Switchblade 300, a product of AeroVironment. According to the International Defense Analysis, photographic and video evidence of these Russian loitering munitions have been shared by Russia’s RIA Novosti on their Twitter account.

The BAS-80, distinguishable by its black coloration, features a noticeably rectangular body with a pair of surveillance cameras at the front. The munition’s fin is located at the rear end. It has two wings, one attached to the upper side and the other to the bottom of the drone’s body, with a significant gap between them.

The Switchblade 300 is a type of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), specifically a loitering munition, capable of hovering over a designated area before striking its target. This lightweight and portable weapon system can be deployed from various platforms, including ground vehicles, helicopters, and fixed-wing aircraft.

The Switchblade 300, with a wingspan of roughly 36 inches and a length of about 24 inches, weighs in at approximately 5.5 pounds. This compact size contributes to its agility and ease of transport. The munition is fitted with a high-resolution electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) camera, delivering a real-time video feed to the operator for accurate target identification and engagement.

With an operational range of up to 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), the Switchblade 300 offers the ability to engage targets from a significant distance. Its endurance of around 15 minutes allows for extended loitering time over the target area. Capable of reaching speeds of up to 100 miles per hour, it ensures a swift response and quick target engagement.

A standout feature of the Switchblade 300 is its precision strike capability. It houses a small explosive warhead that can be remotely detonated by the operator, minimizing collateral damage and reducing risk to friendly forces. The munition’s high maneuverability enables it to navigate complex environments and engage targets in urban or densely populated areas.