China military to induct unmanned spy drones for intelligence, electronic jamming

Xianglong drone. Photo:

Xianglong drone. Photo:

Saibal Dasgupta | Dec 7, 2016, 09.36 PM IST

BEIJING: China’s People’s Liberation Army is in the process of inducting unmanned drones capable of reconnaissance, signal jamming and digital warfare along its land borders and deep into the seas. The locally manufactured Xianglong (Soar Dragon) drones are capable of flying at 750 km an hour.

The official Chinese media said that the high-altitude, long-endurance fliers are China’s answer to the United States’ Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk, which are regarded as the most well-known unpiloted surveillance drone in the world.

Once inducted, they may be deployed in the Himalayan region bordering India and the South China Sea and East China Sea areas where Beijing is engaged in territorial disputes with several countries including Philippines, Vietnam and Japan.

China has been selling military drones to foreign countries, and might try to see this advanced flier to countries like Pakistan, courses said.

The drones are undergoing testing before their induction in the PLA.

The announcement comes soon after Chinese president Xi Jinping said he preferred as smaller and lean army capable of quick responses in real life situations, and able to absorb the latest technologies.

The official media did not say how many drones manufactured by the state-run Guizhou Aviation Industry Group, a subsidiary of aircraft maker Aviation Industry Corp of China, would be inducted in the first phase.

“Xianglong’s unique design makes it suitable for long operations at high altitude. Once the drone is commissioned to the military, it will boost the PLA’s long-range reconnaissance capabilities,” said Wang Ya’nan, editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine.

“Moreover, the jet is a good platform for electronic warfare operations such as signal intelligence collection and electronic jamming,” he added.

AirForces Monthly, a British military aviation magazine, said the drone is capable of operating for 10 hours and can fly up to an altitude of 18,000 meters.

Xianglong has been in the making for a long time. It was unveiled in 2006 at an air show in China, but later disappeared from public view until 2011 when a prototype was seen at an airport run by the Aviation Industry Corp of China.

With an innovative “joined tandem wing” design, the drone’s configuration is different from all other Chinese manned and unmanned planes – it has a conventional swept wing joined with a forward swept wing, which makes it look like a traditional Chinese kite, the official media said.

There has been speculation about the mass production of Xianglong in defense technology websites in China since last July when Guizhou Aviation Industry Group published a photo of one of its manufacturing facilities on the internet.

Source: The Times of India “China military to induct unmanned spy drones for intelligence, electronic jamming”

Note: This is The Times of India’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.