Beijing: China is steadily making itself count amongst the countries known for their advance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) fleets. Undoubtedly, United States takes the lead when it comes to UAVs, both in terms of quantity as well as quality.
However, in an attempt to keep itself abreast with the demands of rapidly changing military technology, China is steadily making forays in UAV technology.
Recently, China was in news for last week reports of an unofficial plan to send a UAV into Myanmar to assassinate a drug trafficker who had murdered 13 Chinese nationals came to light.
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) converted its fleet of obsolete J-6 fighter aircraft into UAV.
The J-6 fleet is currently stationed in Fujiian. The fleet is used for Diaoyu surveillance, as well as being expendable strike assets in the event of an armed engagement.
The Chinese UAVs are not only used to accomplish military assignments. They have been playing active role in monitoring its coasts and borders.
The government of Liaoning province is reportedly using UAVs to monitor the North Korean border.
China also plans to develop two bases along the Pacific Ocean coast to oversee activities in disputed South China sea.
Even China's maritime agency, State Oceanic Administration (SOA), is ready to set up 11 UAVs bases. The bases are expected to be running by 2015.
China's UAV program is mainly drawn on Israeli technology, which it acquired in 1990s in the form of Harpy UAVs.
"The China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) has developed a number of ASN series UAVs, at least two of which appear to be in operational use. First is the ASN-15, a small intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) UAV similar to the U.S. RQ-11 Raven, a small, man-portable system able to perform basic battlefield ISTAR duties. Second is the ASN-209 medium altitude and medium endurance UAV comparable to the U.S. ScanEagle, a larger ISR asset than the Raven with up to 20 hours of flight time for longer-range battlefield and maritime surveillance. The ASN-209 is probably the same aircraft as the “Silver Eagle” which was widely reported to have taken part in naval exercises over the South China Sea in 2011", reports the Diplomat magazine.
Plans are also afoot to develop Vertical Takeoff UAVs (VTUAV). The main function of these is for naval ISTAR and fire control.
China's progress in the field of unmanned helicopter has been steadier than US'.
S-100, S-200- acquired from Australia for civilian use and V750 recently inducted in the service.
China is in the process of finding application for its UAVs fleet, including their use in anti-submarine warfare, and to be interested in the use of UAVs more broadly on its new and future aircraft carriers, not least because UAVs can significantly augment China’s anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities. “A2/AD places a premium on extending your range of monitoring and tracking targets from afar,” the Diplomat quoted, “UAS are very helpful in that.”
These are the Yilong/Wing Loong “Pterodactyl”, built by the Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute (CADI), and the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation’s (CASC’s) CH-4.
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