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The drone, identified by analysts as a BZK-05 unmanned aerial vehicle flew over the East China Sea about 62 miles north of the Senkakus and then returned to China. It did not enter Japanese airspace.
A day earlier, the Japanese Defense Ministry released photos of a Chinese H-6 bomber flying through the Miyako Strait. The bomber is one of China’s strategic nuclear delivery vehicles, which also include land-based missiles and submarines.
On Tuesday, seven Chinese Coast Guard vessels sailed inside Japanese territorial waters around the Senkakus.
“China is ratcheting up pressure in the East China Sea by deploying long-range air patrols to add to its frequent deployment of coast guard ships to harass Japanese coast guard ships guarding the Senkaku Islands,” said Richard Fisher Jr., a China military analyst with the International Assessment and Strategic Center.
Mr. Fisher said the dispatch of unmanned aircraft for long-range patrols is a cost-effective pressure tactic by the People’s Liberation Army and also allows China to take more risks by sending spy planes closer to sensitive areas.
Japan’s notification of the drone incident was meant to signal China that it is capable of countering the surveillance. For China, Monday’s encounter was likely a Chinese electronic intelligence-gathering exercise aimed at monitoring Japan’s military response. The intelligence would be valuable for any military confrontation between the two Asian powers.
The drone is similar to Israel’s Heron UAV in size and performance, estimated to be 40 hours of flight time. Its main mission is surveillance, and the aircraft has not been observed to be equipped with missiles.
A Chinese defense official confirmed the drone flight to Japan’s NHK television and said it was part of routine exercises.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry protested the UAV flight, and Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters Tuesday that Japan Self-Defense Forces are stepping up surveillance of the area.
Wednesday marked the first anniversary of the Japanese government’s purchase of three of the Senkakus from private owners in an effort to limit the controversy over the uninhabited islands.
Instead, Tokyo’s purchase touched off government-supported Chinese riots against Japan.
Chinese military commentator Maj. Gen. Luo Yuan added to the tensions by criticizing Japan for its claims over the Senkakus. Gen. Luo on Sept. 1 issued a threat that China’s nuclear forces would “frighten Japan” and “guarantee China’s victory” in any conflict.
Ion Mihai Pacepa, a high-ranking Romanian intelligence officer who defected to the United States and exposed communist intelligence and deception operations, was honored by the Romanian government 35 years after he was sentenced to death by the regime of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
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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