The U.S. is worried about the rapid growth of China’s drone industry, Mark McDonald of the International Herald Tribune reports. China will display several unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at an air show this month, and many of them look like the U.S. aircraft being used against targets in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia.
McDonald reports that the CH-4 and the Wing Loong, or Pterodactyl, models appear to be clones of the American Reaper and Predator drones while the larger Xianglong, or Soaring Dragon — a long-range, high-altitude model — resembles the RQ-4 Global Hawk.
“As the Americans say, the U.A.V. is fit for missions that are dirty, dangerous and dull,” Huang Wei, the director of the CH-4 program at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, told the state-run newspaper Global Times.
A defence Department report mentions how the U.S. feels about the situation:
“The military significance of China’s move into unmanned systems is alarming. The country has a great deal of technology, seemingly unlimited resources and clearly is leveraging all available information on Western unmanned systems development. China might easily match or
outpace U.S. spending on unmanned systems, rapidly close the technology gaps and become a
formidable global competitor in unmanned systems.”
The DoD report even mentions the Anjian, or the Dark Sword, which is a drone that “represents the aspirations of the Chinese to design something even the Western powers don’t have — a supersonic drone capable of air-to-air combat as well as ground strikes.”
In terms of a potential U.S. response, McDonald cites an article by Scott Shane that explains the hypocrisy if the U.S. tries to temper drone use in the international community while it pre-emptively kills people around the globe.
If China, for instance, sends killer drones into Kazakhstan to hunt minority Uighur Muslims it accuses of plotting terrorism, what will the United States say? What if India uses remotely controlled craft to hit terrorism suspects in Kashmir, or Russia sends drones after militants in the Caucasus? American officials who protest will likely find their own example thrown back at them.
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