Efforts by the Chinese military to modernize its aerospace capabilities were on full display at the eighth China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition that concluded in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, China, yesterday, with no less than 25 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) on display.
According to a report in Defense News, three Chinese companies — ASN Technology Group, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC) and China Aerospace Science Technology Corp (CASC) — produced the majority of the UAVs unveiled at the show.
The different models served various roles, from combat to battlefield reconnaissance, reports said.
The most sophisticated models, Defense News wrote, were -produced by CASIC and CASC — the main provider for China’s space program — which had systems designed not only to locate targets, but to destroy them as well.
One model, the CH-3, was a multipurpose medium-range UAV platform suitable for battlefield reconnaissance that could be modified as a precision-attack platform using air-to-ground missiles similar to the US’ Hellfire.
In one promotional video, a WJ-600 drone produced by CASIC was seen locating an aircraft carrier and relaying the information to a coastal defense center for possible attack by anti-ship missiles, Defense News reported.
Also noteworthy were signs of growing assertiveness by the Chinese, who had traditionally kept “a low profile, especially when it comes to military planning,” -Russell Hsiao, editor of the Jamestown Foundation’s China Brief, wrote in an article published on Friday.
The Global Times reported last week that a detailed diagram in the main hall of the air show depicted an integrated “Coastal Defense System” of Chinese ground, naval, air and space assets coordinating an attack on an unflagged aircraft carrier group approaching a small island off the coast of China.
This was the first time CASIC has publicly showed how the Chinese military could counter an aircraft carrier group ostensibly heading for the Taiwan Strait, which dovetailed with increasing signs that the People’s Liberation Army is developing a variety of “area denial” platforms to complicate US intervention in a Taiwan contingency.
“The prominent role of UAVs at the air show also suggests that its battlefield applications are becoming more defined in Chinese defense planning,” Hsiao wrote.