An internal Chinese government document says China is working to develop an advanced unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) as part of a strategy to combine civilian and military technology in weapons and nonmilitary equipment.
The document, which was obtained by The Washington Times, is a feasibility report dated July 8 and labeled “National Defense Science and Technology Industry Military and Civilian Dual-Use Research and Development Special Project.”
A U.S. official, who spoke on condition he not be named, said the document appears genuine. Chinese Embassy spokesman Wang Baodong had no immediate comment on the document.
It states that the goal of the project is to produce a high-altitude, low-speed, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle in two years. The state-run company in charge of the program is a major Chinese weapons manufacturer, the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. (CASIC).
According to the document, civilian uses will include aerial exploration, air-to-ground monitoring and other scientific work. Military applications for the UAV are outlined as “military aerial inspection and detection, electronic warfare and other missions.”
“We hope to be able to provide quality, practical products for military and civilian clients in a speedy manner,” the document says.
“At present, the United States and Israel have mastered the technology central to this type of aerial vehicle, and they have imposed a technology blockage to other countries and have exerted especially strict control with regard to our country,” the document says.
It also states that China needs to “break through the core technologies of this type of aerial vehicle” by using existing technology and international cooperation to boost domestic research efforts to “enhance the military’s combat capability.”
The UAV program will boost scientific and technical capabilities. “The economic and social benefits will be transformed directly into actual results that reflect the doctrine of ‘combining military and civilian and placing military into civilian,’” the report says.
China has purchased Israeli Harpy anti-radar drones that home in on enemy radar with an explosive charge. The drone missiles were first detected by U.S. intelligence agencies deployed near Taiwan in the 1990s.
China also has displayed scale models of planned UAVs at arms shows, including a drone that looks similar to the U.S. jet-powered long-range Global Hawk.
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Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
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