Center for Strategic Assessment and forecasts

Autonomous non-profit organization

Home / Defence and security / New in the military / Articles
The views of the Chinese military experts on the forms and methods of strategic unmanned aerial vehicles
Material posted: Publication date: 26-04-2020

Analysis of the views of the military-political leadership of the people's Republic of China (PRC) on the implementation of national unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) shows that since the beginning of 2000-x years the priority direction of development in this area is the creation of high-tech products systems with UAVs of different types. At the same time, special attention is paid to high-rise and medium vehicles with a long flight, as in the period from 2015 to 2019 the basis of the Park unmanned aircraft of the PLA were of a system with a tactical reconnaissance UAV capable of maintaining the species of aerial reconnaissance.

The main purpose of Chinese military experts the field of UAV systems is the development of concepts for the application of these tools in the interests of missile troops (PB), army, air force, Navy and strategic support (SBS) and the organization of their interspecific interactions. Most attention is paid to solution through the application of UAV tasks such as: information supporting operation of the aircraft; preventing the use of enemy forces and their vehicles; the reduction in precision of the opposing side; keeping the REB; retransmission of signals of communication and control.

The main document defining the use of UAVS in the armed forces of China, is the instruction "the Concept of using unmanned aerial vehicles"[1]. This document regulates the adoption, use and further development of the UAV, the classification of these systems and their combat use. In accordance with the document, the main directions of development of unmanned aerial vehicles in China (including directions of development of the UAV other leading foreign countries) are equipping them with guided aviation means of destruction, ensuring the group of the use of drones and combine them with manned aircraft (LA). The document also reflects the opinion of the CDF of China that despite the technological gap with the US[2] and Israel in the area of unmanned systems over the last 10-15 years, Chinese experts have made in this direction considerable success. This is due to the development not only of the systems themselves with drones, but with the commissioning of the space navigation system (WPF) "Beidou" and satellite communication systems.

In the document it is noted that it is necessary to solve a wide range of tasks such as: keeping a species of aerial reconnaissance, defeat time-critical targets, conduct electronic warfare and retransmission of signals of communication systems and data transmission. It is also noted that in special cases of strategic UAV can be used as aerial targets. In addition, Chinese UAV depending on tasks, can be equipped with electronic intelligence equipment, electronic warfare, radiation and chemical reconnaissance and relay apparatus of the communication signals. Onboard communication and data exchange allow you to transfer intelligence and command control within range, line of sight or via a satellite communication channel.

Since 2010 is actively working in the field of creation of high-altitude reconnaissance UAV with long-endurance, in particular apparatus "xianglong". It is assumed that in addition to reconnaissance and data relay, it will solve the problem of anti-ship ballistic missile "Dongfeng-21". Once deployed at a military base in Chaguani, missiles "Dongfeng-21" can provide the overlap to 70 % of the waters of the South China sea, creating a "restricted area" for the Navy of a potential enemy. The remaining 30% of the water area will be able to control created by Chinese carriers.

Command of the PLA intends to use reconnaissance and multi-purpose UAV with large duration of flight to detect and destroy the enemy outside the national territory. So, it is planned to deploy a network of base points of the UAV along the land border to enable them on a permanent basis in order to monitor and ensure the defense of the adjacent areas. Largely this will be achieved thanks to the commissioning of the WPF Chinese "Beidou", the signals of which are used to determine the location of UAVS, as well as progress in the field of satellite communication systems may relay signal BLAH.

Thus, the military-political leadership of China pays special attention to the creation and development of the systems of UAV that will greatly increase the capacity of the national armed forces. Mass "robotization" of the PLA corresponds to the main principles of construction and modernization of the armed forces: mechanization – increase the number of advanced VVT systems; "optimization" – improving the organizational structure with the aim of improving the efficiency of combat use; "information" – equipping forces with advanced means of reconnaissance, communications and management, and then integrate them into a single information space in the field.

Chinese copy foreign experts, best-in-class samples of the UAV, and command examining the experience of using unmanned vehicles in various armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations. However in China, unlike USA, is not yet elaborated a clear concept of the use of unmanned systems. The abundance of experimental UAVs and systems based on them cannot be considered an accident. Assume that in the short term, the subject of UAVs in China will develop rapidly, and in the next decade the country will become the leader (after the USA and Israel) in the creation of such funds. The main direction of application of unmanned systems in China will neutralize the efforts of the United States, provided the American concept of "air-sea operations".


List of sources used

  5. Dragon Designs / Unmanned Vehicles, February/March 2017, Volume 22, Number 10.



[2] Chinese military experts pay great attention to the study of the experience of the strategic use of UAVs in other countries. For example, they note that, in the course of the operation "Iraqi Freedom" in 2003, the office of the U.S. RQ-4A "global hawk", which operated from the continental United States, flew about 20 sorties with combined logged more than 350 hours. This amounted to only 3% of the total number of reconnaissance flights of aviation group, but the apparatus gave more than 50% of all intelligence about fixed and mobile purposes, which was brought to combat units after its processing by ground stations located in the continental United States. The total time for the distribution and provision of information did not exceed 10 min. According to this data, destroyed more than 10 anti-aircraft missile batteries, 70 vehicles and over 300 tanks.

Ruslan Bolonchuk

RELATED MATERIALS: Defence and security