China is incrementally advancing its development and employment of UAVs. According to a 2013 report by the Defense Science Board, China’s move into unmanned systems is “alarming” and combines unlimited resources with technological awareness that might allow China to match or even outpace U.S. spending on unmanned systems in the future.
This statement comes straight from the Annual Report on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2013.
China’s ability to use drones is increasing rapidly. According to the report, China “plans to produce upwards of 41,800 land- and sea-based unmanned systems, worth about $10.5 billion, between 2014 and 2023.”
China will match or even outpace U.S. spending on unmanned systems in the future.
Four drones under development include the Xianglong (Soaring Dragon), Yilong (Pterodactyl), Sky Saber, and Lijian (Sharp Sword), with the latter three drones configured to fire precision-strike weapons
Wired.com reports that with the anticipated succesful test flight of the Lijian, China becomes the last major aerospace power to field a jet-powered, stealth drone prototype.
Chinese models on display at the Zhuhai show included the CH-4 and the Wing Loong, or Pterodactyl, described as apparent clones of the US Reaper and Predator drones; the Xianglong, or Soaring Dragon, that appears modeled after the US RQ-4 Global Hawk.
Some information on the Wong Loong and the Xianglong can be found on this page.
China is entering the UAV drone arms race in force. The drones to are already put to work, as one Wing Loong drone was intercepted near the disputed Senkaku islands, as the aviationist reports.