Game of Drones — China stepping up drone deployment

China’s military is expanding its unmanned aerial vehicle forces with a new Predator-like armed drone and a new unmanned combat aircraft amid growing tensions with neighbors in Asia, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

New unarmed drone deployments include the recent stationing of reconnaissance and ocean surveillance drones in Northeast Asia near Japan and the Senkaku islands and along China’s southern coast. Drones also are planned for the South China Sea where China has been encroaching on international waters and bullying nations of that region in asserting control over international waters, said officials familiar with intelligence reports.

Japan, meanwhile, is developing and purchasing military drone capabilities to counter what it regards as Chinese aggression and Beijing’s growing military capabilities as Tokyo’s dispute with China over the Senkaku islands intensifies, the officials said.

So far, unlike Beijing, Tokyo asserts its drone will be unarmed, the officials said.

“China has started deploying UAVs for reconnaissance and oceanic surveillance purposes in the vicinity of disputed maritime territories, such as the Senkaku Islands,” said one military source.

Of particular concern to U.S. intelligence agencies are two new missile-equipped drones known as the CH-4 and Yi Long. The aircraft were shown off along with six other military drones at a major Chinese arms show last November in Zhuhai.

Full article: Game of Drones — China stepping up drone deployment (Washington Free Beacon)

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