Chinese armed drones now flying across Mideast battlefields

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FILE – In this Oct. 10, 2015, file photo, Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi, center, inspects a first Chinese drone to be used by the Iraqi Air Force before sending it to bomb Islamic State group positions at an airbase in Kut, 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq. Across the Middle East, countries locked out of purchasing U.S.-made drones due to rules over excessive civilian casualties are being wooed by Chinese arms dealers, who are world’s main distributor of armed drones. The sales are helping expand Chinese influence across a region crucial to American security interests and bolstering Beijing’s ambitions of being a world leader in high-tech arms sales. (AP Photo, File)

 

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — High above Yemen’s rebel-held city of Hodeida, a drone controlled by Emirati forces hovered as an SUV carrying a top Shiite Houthi rebel official turned onto a small street and stopped, waiting for another vehicle in its convoy to catch up.

Seconds later, the SUV exploded in flames, killing Saleh al-Samad, a top political figure.

The drone that fired that missile in April was not one of the many American aircraft that have been buzzing across the skies of Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001. It was Chinese. Continue reading

The Pentagon’s New Drone Swarm Heralds a Future of Autonomous War Machines

 

On Oct. 26, 2016, a pair of Hornets flying above an empty part of California opened their bellies and released a robotic swarm. With machine precision, the fast-moving unmanned flying machines took flight, then moved to a series of waypoints, meeting objectives set for the swarm by a human controller. The brief flight of 103 tiny drones heralds a new age in how, exactly, America uses robots at war.

The Pentagon’s worked with Perdix drones since 2013, with the October flight using the military’s 6th generation of the devices. F/A-18 Hornets, long-serving Navy fighters, carried the drones and released them from flare dispensers. The small drones were the subject of an episode of CBS’s 60 Minutes, and they move so fast they’re hard to film. Below, in a clip from the Department of Defense, the drones are barely visible as dark blurs beneath the fighters. Continue reading

Growth in China’s Drone Program Called ‘Alarming’

HONG KONG — At China’s biennial air show in Zhuhai this month, an imposing fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles was on display — drones bearing a striking resemblance to the American aircraft that have proved so deadly in attacks on insurgents in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Israel, Britain and the United States have pretty much had a corner on the global drone market, but the recent Chinese air show and a Pentagon report have exploded that notion.

“In a worrisome trend, China has ramped up research in recent years faster than any other country,” said the unclassified analysis published in July by the Defense Science Board. “It displayed its first unmanned system model at the Zhuhai air show five years ago, and now every major manufacturer for the Chinese military has a research center devoted to unmanned systems.”

The report, which said “the military significance of China’s move into unmanned systems is alarming,” suggested that China could “easily match or outpace U.S. spending on unmanned systems, rapidly close the technology gaps and become a formidable global competitor in unmanned systems.Continue reading