Report: China Increasing Drone Operations in Disputed Seas

In the future, power projection via drones will not be limited to Asia or the Asia-Pacific, but the Western Pacific on America’s doorstep — if not pushing through.

You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. In days to come, Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.Ezekiel 38:16

 

An unmanned drone aircraft is tested during a campaign for disaster prevention and reduction in Beijing / Getty Images

 

DOD predicts China will produce tens of thousands of drones by 2023

A new report reveals how the Chinese military uses unmanned drones as a means of power projection and surveillance in the hotly contested South and East China Seas.

The report, released Monday by the Project 2049 Institute, offers “a field guide to Chinese UAVs/UCAVs operating in the disputed East and South China Seas.”

China, the report claims, is currently undergoing a “drone boom,” driven both by heavy investment in the Chinese drone industry and by the sometimes-illegal acquisition of foreign drone technology. The Department of Defense projects that China will produce tens of thousands of drones, worth more than $10 billion, by 2023.

China is increasingly deploying these drones in disputed areas over which it claims sovereignty. Drones have been sighted in the East China Sea—where China claims territory also claimed by Japan and Taiwan—and the South China Sea—where China contests sovereignty with a number of other countries, including Taiwan, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

The report documents four drones known to be in use by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force: the S-100, ASN-209, BZK-005, and GJ-1. Three of the drones are Chinese-produced while one, the S-100, is made by Schiebel, an Austrian firm.

One limiting factor facing Chinese power projection is the inability of current drones to runway launch from aboard the Chinese Navy’s sole aircraft carrier. This limits the BKZ-005, primarily used for surveillance, to being launched from land. Smaller drones such as the S-100 are vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) models, and so do not face the same problem. Additionally, drones can be launched from Chinese-controlled artificial islands in the contested seas.

Although standard aerial drones make up the bulk of Chinese drone power in the contest territory, other kinds of drones are an important component of regional strategic considerations. Late last month, China deployed dozens of underwater drones, ostensibly for scientific research, in a move that Newsweek said could leave the U.S. Navy “dead in the water.” At least one report suggested the PLA is considering adding drone swarm technology to its arsenal.

Full article: Report: China Increasing Drone Operations in Disputed Seas (Washington Free Beacon)

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