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China makes waves as new force in drone warfare

- The Washington Times - Friday, May 3, 2013

China is emerging as a real force in the drone warfare market, with aerospace firms developing and showcasing unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs, that rival what's produced in the United States.

The Associated Press reported that Chinese firms have recently unveiled UAVs that are eerily similar to the Predator, Global Hawk and Reaper models used by the CIA and by the U.S. Air Force. Military analysts say Chinese drone technology is still behind America's and Israel's — but that it's catching up quickly.

"My sense is that China is moving into large-scale deployments of UAVs," said Ian Easton, one of two researchers who wrote a report on China's drone program for the Project 2049 Institute think tank, AP said.

The emerging drone technology represents China's growing military intelligence. It also suggests that China is preparing a military challenge for dominance in the Asia-Pacific, a role currently filled by America. The concern is China — which said its drones can carry bombs and missiles — could take that technology and use it to intimidate neighbors, AP reported. Japan, Vietnam, India and the Philippines are among those who are watching.

"China is following the precedent set by the U.S.," said Siemon Wezeman, a senior fellow at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden, AP reported. "The thinking is that, 'If the U.S. can do it, so can we. They're a big country with security interests and so are we.' "

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