A new report reveals how the Chinese military uses unmanned drones as a means of power projection and surveillance in the hotly contested South and East China Seas.
The report, released Monday by the Project 2049 Institute, offers “a field guide to Chinese UAVs/UCAVs operating in the disputed East and South China Seas.”
China, the report claims, is currently undergoing a “drone boom,” driven both by heavy investment in the Chinese drone industry and by the sometimes-illegal acquisition of foreign drone technology. The Department of Defense projects that China will produce tens of thousands of drones, worth more than $10 billion, by 2023.
China is increasingly deploying these drones in disputed areas over which it claims sovereignty. Drones have been sighted in the East China Sea—where China claims territory also claimed by Japan and Taiwan—and the South China Sea—where China contests sovereignty with a number of other countries, including Taiwan, Malaysia, and Vietnam.