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China Likely to Develop New Stealth Long-Range Drones for the Pacific

By | Mar 15, 2017 02:46 AM EDT
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Reaper Aircraft Flies Without Pilot From Creech AFB

An MQ-9 Reaper takes off August 8, 2007 at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada.(Photo : Getty Images)

China is likely developing a new stealth long-range drone that will "drastically increase" the capabilities of the People's Liberation Army in the Pacific, Vasily Kashin, a defense analyst from Russia, told Sputnik.

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According to Kashin, the new stealthy long-range unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will likely be more complex, although China already possesses the technological base needed to produce them. China even released the Lijian, its first stealth combat drone, which resembles like Lockheed Martin's RQ-170 Sentinel.

He further explained that a stealthy reconnaissance drone could help the People's Liberation Army (PLA) during combat activities in the Pacific, and a reliable target assignment is the key challenge for these systems.

He also said that China tried to use a space system for maritime reconnaissance, although such systems are vulnerable and have limitations. "A stealthy long-range drone could be an ideal solution," he said. Such drones could also be used to track naval groups while remaining undetected by planes.

Wei Yiyin, deputy general manager of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), said that the company aims to produce a drone that China Daily described as "a long-endurance stealth drone and near-space drone." CASIC has been known for its WJ series unmanned aerial vehicles, which Kashin described as a "reusable cruise missiles outfitted with reconnaissance equipment instead of warheads."

With the drastic changes in the military tech, Wei said that drones have become an "indispensable weapon in modern warfare." Drones could be useful for high-resolution reconnaissance, long-distance precision strikes, anti-submarine operations, and aerial combats

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