China’s military plans to produce nearly 42,000 land-based and sea-based unmanned weapons and sensor platforms as part of its continuing, large-scale military buildup, the Pentagon’s annual report on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) disclosed Friday. China currently operates several armed and unarmed drone aircraft and is developing long-range range unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for both intelligence gathering and bombing attacks. “The acquisition and development of longer-range UAVs will increase China’s ability to conduct long-range reconnaissance and strike operations,” the report said.
China’s ability to use drones is increasing and the report said China “plans to produce upwards of 41,800 land- and sea-based unmanned systems, worth about $10.5 billion, between 2014 and 2023.” Four UAVs under development include the Xianglong, Yilong, Sky Saber, and Lijian, with the latter three drones configured to fire precision-strike weapons. “The Lijian, which first flew on Nov. 21, 2013, is China’s first stealthy flying wing UAV,” the report said. The drone buildup is part of what the Pentagon identified as a decades-long military buildup that last year produced new multi-warhead missiles and a large number of submarines and ships. MORE