India need to boost combat drone capabilities

In June 2017, China reported several drones delivering food, medicines and water to PLA soldiers – calling them ‘care packages’ for front-line soldiers delivered automatically. Same month China conducted tests with a swarm of 117 drones.

This was followed by demonstration of 1,374 quadcopter swarms flown in May 2018 which was a world record. American defence researchers had then noted that future swarms of small drones might also be able to carry electronic warfare jammers, emitters that mimic the signals of larger aircraft, equipment capable of conducting cyber attacks, or other systems to confuse or overwhelm an opponent’s defences ahead of or during a more complex operation.

It may be recalled that in January 2018, Russia’s Hmeimim air base and Tartus naval facility were attacked by drone swarms launched by Islamist rebels.

China is leading the world today in drone production of all types and sizes. China’s state media had reported in October 2018 that China will sell 48 x Wing Loong II high-end reconnaissance, precision strike and multi-role long-endurance unmanned aircraft system to Pakistan and the same will also be jointly manufactured by the two countries.

Wing Loong II has a range of 4,000 km with top speed of 280 km/h and is equipped with satellite link. There has also been news past two years about Pakistan buying China’s Cai Hong-4 (CH-4) devices – MALE-class drones capable of operating at medium altitude for a long time, which is supposedly a crude copy of the American drone MQ-1 Predator. But problems with the operation and maintenance of these drones were announced by Algeria, Iran, Iraq and Jordan. Algeria refused to purchase more of these while Jordan decided to sell their entire CH-4 fleet. Hence Pakistan may not have acquired these unless gifted free by China or improved the quality.

In recent exercises, PLA Airborne Corps was observed using the new Aoshi XC25 – attack UAV developed by Sichuan Aoshi Technology. An ‘electric’ UAV, Aoshi XC25 is able to continuously stay in the air for two hours and fly up to 75 kilometers without recharging the batteries.

Source: Defence View

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