ISBN 9789383649471,China's Drone Air Power and Regional Security

China's Drone Air Power and Regional Security

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ISBN 9789383649471
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ISBN 9789383649471
Publisher

Knowledge World Publishers

Publication Year 2015
ISBN-13

ISBN 9789383649471

ISBN-10 938364947X
Binding

Paperback

Number of Pages 85 Pages
Language (English)
Subject

Politics

Since appearing in the skies over Afghanistan in 2001, drones have captured the public imagination. Deployed by the US military in counter-insurgency and stabilisation campaigns, unmanned air power has been widely hailed as a revolutionary instrument of modern warfare. Its development has given rise to debates about the ethics of "targeted killing" strikes, the challenges for sovereignty and international law, and the role of autonomy in future weapons. However, this has obscured earlier lessons about drones from decades of trial and error, as well as the enduring challenges which lay ahead for this technology. Less discussed is the way drones can be harnessed by other countries for military doctrine and war-fighting concepts, and how this could shape the international security landscape. As this technology spreads across the world, embraced by military forces and incorporated into their force structures, these questions have become more urgent. Among the countries exploring the possibilities of drone air power in the years ahead, the People's Republic of China (PRC) stands out for its ambition. This book assesses the role of drone air power in China's military - its early history, operational deployment, technology development, future capability options, and strategic consequences. By examining the innovation of early drone prototypes over the course of the 20th century, this book first identifies the conditions required for indigenous development of unmanned technology for air power. It then examines whether China is capable of surmounting these challenges, demonstrating that a range of functions - aviation skills and industry R&D, military organisation and planning, space communications, training and deployment opportunities - have been mastered by China. These emerging drone capabilities are compared with the latest research in unmanned technology, which China seems capable of emulating over time, albeit with some weaknesses in procurement. Finally, China's drone capabilities are applied to its foreign policy context, in order to tease out some of the circumstances in which this technology might be used, and its likely impact on regional security. Unmanned technology is a valued part of China's military modernisation drive. So far, the country has largely borrowed from the example of the US military, although in some areas of drone procurement, China appears posed to strike out on its own path. Already, modern vehicles have been fielded in a limited capacity, and this will certainly expand in the years to come as the drone programme reflects China's desire to incorporate the latest aviation technology from the commercial sectors to strengthen its military posture and conventional deterrence. The pattern of deployment and decision-making reflected in China's use of drones suggests that the country remains cautious about the strategic implications of unmanned air power. But an analysis of the regional security landscape suggests there are some concerns on the horizon which should be the subject of discussion and clarification with China, including arms control measures and escalation control for regional contingencies.
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