Pentagon is scrambling as China ‘sells the hell out of’ armed drones to US allies

on Feb21
by | Comments Off on Pentagon is scrambling as China ‘sells the hell out of’ armed drones to US allies |

Participants walk past a Chinese made Wing Loong drone displayed during the Dubai Airshow on November 14, 2017, in the United Arab Emirates.

KARIM SAHIB | AFP | Getty Images

Participants walk past a Chinese made Wing Loong drone displayed during the Dubai Airshow on November 14, 2017, in the United Arab Emirates.

Last summer, Riyadh confirmed that the Chinese were building a CH-4 production facility — the first drone factory in the region — in Saudi Arabia. The CH-4, an ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) and attack drone with similarities to the Reaper, is also used by the UAE, Iraq and Egypt.

In addition to being able to sell to any willing buyer, the Chinese also offer the lowest prices on the market.

According to Jack Watling, a land warfare expert at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London, the UAE’s Chinese drone purchases began after the the U.S. refused to sell them American armed UAVs.

Now, he says, “the (President Donald) Trump administration has reduced its threshold for sale, which partly happened after the UAE started its Chinese drone purchases.”

Gulf militaries do have American drones, but not ones capable of destroying targets. These include the U.S.-made Predator XP, which can carry ISR camera packages, but it’s downgraded so that it can’t carry weapons systems.

Still, Watling says, U.S platforms are better than their Chinese counterparts — and if given the opportunity, buyers would likely choose those.

“Chinese UAS (unmanned aerial systems) are not as stable as American systems,” he explained. “They therefore have to fly lower, though they are improving. This has resulted in several Chinese platforms being shot down.”



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