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Could cheap suicide drones replace cruise missiles?
Release time: 2023-10-17 15:08:52  Hits: 300

Could cheap suicide drones replace cruise missiles? The answer is irreplaceable!


Suicide drones and cruise missiles are two different weapons. To put it simply, suicide drones are drones first, while cruise missiles are missiles first. Suicide drones are equipped with warheads on drones, while cruise missiles are equipped with wings on missiles. This determines that the two have different performances and different uses. The overlap between the two functions is very small, which determines that there is no possibility that the two can replace each other, at least for now.

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Suicide drones are basically small ammunition and are disposable weapons. Therefore, the biggest requirement for suicide drones is that they must be cheap, that is, they must be affordable. The low price also limits the overall performance of suicide drones to how advanced they are, and they are basically in a usable state. For example, Iran's "Shahed-136" suicide drone is powered by a motorcycle engine, using a propeller propulsion method, coupled with a guidance and positioning system. It does not even have an optoelectronic targeting system and relies on other targets. The detection and reconnaissance aircraft assigns targets and has limited ability to attack moving targets. The warhead charge is only a few dozen kilograms, the speed is less than 200 kilometers per hour, and the range is short, making it easy to intercept. The advantage is that it can be produced in large quantities and the price is low.

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The main characteristic of a cruise missile is its long range. It can be understood as taking a missile with a short range and adding wing-like wings to allow it to fly farther. Therefore, the main target characteristic of a cruise missile is to pursue Long range. This is fundamentally different from suicide drones.


The speed of the two is also different. The speed of suicide drones is very slow, usually only about 200 kilometers per hour. Think about it, the cruise missile has a range of 2,000 kilometers, and the suicide drone needs to fly for 10 hours, waiting for it to fly to the target. In this area, people have already finished their meals and left. Even if the cruise missile is subsonic, it has a speed of nearly 900 kilometers per hour. Moreover, the development direction of cruise missiles is moving towards supersonic speeds.

The warhead charge is different. Suicide drones are limited by their small size. The warhead charge is very small, while the cruise missile warhead charge is much larger.


Cruise missiles are high-tech long-range strike weapons at the operational and strategic levels, while suicide drones are low-end smart strike weapons at the tactical level. They have different uses.At present, suicide drones are in a usable state. This is related to their disposable nature. They do not seek to be high-end, as long as they can be used. Judging from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the performance of the so-called Iranian Shahed suicide drones is not advanced, and the number shot down is far greater than the number missed. However, even if the success rate is only 20%, it is a victory, because this low-end suicide drone itself is a weapon that wins by quantity.With the development of supersonic speed and longer range of cruise missiles, the difference between cruise missiles and suicide drones lingering on the tactical battlefield level will become increasingly greater. Therefore, suicide drones cannot replace cruise missiles.


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