China delivers Shahed-136 copycat Sunflower-200 drones, ammunition and aircraft spare parts to Russia

On Saturday, June 29, a Chinese military transport aircraft, the Y-20 military transport aircraft with tail number 20248, made a landing in Moscow, Russia.

China never publicly announced its direct involvement in arms shipments like Iran and North Korea, but recent activities of PRC’s Y-20 transport aircraft travelling back and forth from China to Russia prove China is delivering weapons to Russia. The latest shipment includes the Sunflower-200 kamikaze drones to Russia and risks possible Western sanctions.

The Chinese website says the drone has a 3.2-meter length, 2.5-meter wingspan, and a flight speed of 160-220 kilometers per hour. According to China Defense, the Sunflower-200 has a maximum take-off weight of 175 kilograms, a combat payload of 40 kilograms, and can fly up to 1500 kilometers to engage targets.

Configuration A is guided through the Global Positioning System (GPS) and BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, and Configuration B is guided by visual cues using onboard optical systems. Both configurations can strike a target with an engaging range of 1,500 km. The 100 km engagement range includes wireless video transmission and optional manual locking.

Sunflower 200 loitering munition presentation at the Armiya-2023 military forum in russia, August 2023

The appearance of this aircraft, capable of transporting military cargo, raises concerns amid Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine.

Reports of the aircraft’s landing in Russia have been circulating on aviation tracking websites. However, there has been no official statement regarding the purpose of the plane’s visit to Moscow. According to FlightRadar24, the aircraft’s flight path included Altaiski Krai, Tyumen, Yekaterinburg, and Kazan, with a detailed flight map published on the site.

China’s Sunflower-200 killer drone is for sale. Image: China Defense

Western intelligence sources have previously stated that there is no evidence of direct military supplies from China to Russia. Nonetheless, Beijing is known to provide Moscow with dual-use goods, which are used in Russia’s military industry for weapons production.

The Y-20’s presence in Moscow is notable given the geopolitical context. The aircraft, designed for heavy-lift transport, can carry substantial military equipment and personnel. This has led to speculation about the nature of the cargo it delivered or picked up.

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