BZYA's 6.4-ton YJ2081C 4×4 protected assault vehicle based on the Russian GAZ Tigr

China has developed a highly mobile armoured vehicle that can fire dozens of drones capable of conducting reconnaissance operations and deliver accurate suicide attacks on targets. The low-cost drones can easily distract and swarm the enemy, military analysts said.

The 5.7 meter-long, 2.4 meter-wide 4×4 off-road vehicle has a max speed of 125 kilometres an hour. It can adapt to the various demands of highly mobile troops and is able to operate in difficult terrains including jungles and mountains, according to a statement from Yanjing Auto sent to the Global Times on Tuesday.

The wheeled vehicle uses what the company calls “missile-vehicle integrated technology.” It carries 12 pneumatic launch tubes that fire drones into the air, which then spread their wings and become operationally controllable.

Developed by Beijing Zhongzi Yanjing Auto Co Ltd, the armoured multipurpose drone launching vehicle was displayed at the Beijing Civil-Military Integration Expo 2019

These launch tubes are usually hidden within the vehicle and are only revealed upon use. This provides an element of surprise as enemies will have difficulty distinguishing drone launching vehicles from standard ones, a company employee told the Global Times at the expo.

Among the 12 drones the vehicle can launch, four of them are the smaller SULA30 reconnaissance drones that can stay in the air for more than an hour. They can transmit real-time information to a command centre, said a separate company statement sent to the Global Times. 

Eight of the drones are two meter-wide SULA89 reconnaissance and attack drones that can carry more than two kilograms of explosives each. They can launch accurate suicide attacks once they locate their targets, diving at speeds of 180 kilometres an hour, according to the company’s statement.

The SULA89 is designed to destroy mobile light armoured vehicles, field fortifications and armed personnel in cover, the company said.

Drones such as the SULA89 are not very costly and would be a major distraction to the enemy, military analysts said.

Twelve drones in one vehicle can form a formidable swarm and deliver a saturated attack on a single target, or they could spread out to deal with multiple targets. A convoy of such vehicles would be devastating to the enemy, analysts said.

Russia is also developing suicide drones, including the KUB-BLA, built by Kalashnikov Group, the same company that makes the AK-47 assault rifle. It was revealed at the IDEX-2019 arms exhibition in Abu Dhabi in February, US media outlet the National Interest reported.

By comparison, the Russian drone can carry around 2.7 kilograms of explosives and travel at 130 kilometres an hour, according to the report. 

Yanjing Auto also displayed other variants of the same vehicle, including one that can carry three armed reconnaissance hexacopter drones and one that is equipped with eight multipurpose missiles.

These weapon systems are available for export, the Yanjing Auto employee said.