China leaks a blueprint for drone war dominance
China has revealed an ambitious plan to transform its military operations through the integration of more advanced unmanned systems, a strategic shift toward drone-led special operations in war scenarios including a potential conflict with the US over Taiwan.
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported this month that China’s military plans to replace humans with machines in special operations overseas to mitigate the high risks of such missions.
Scientists are working with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to develop unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) capable of flying vast distances, diving deep underwater and lying in wait for long periods, the SCMP report said.
The PLA’s 78092 unit has revealed details about a hypothetical overseas special operations plan published in the Fire Control & Command Control journal, aiming to help Chinese companies, engineers and scientists better understand the military’s needs and strategic goals.
The PLA’s plan says the hypothetical operation is set in 2035 when a small-scale conflict between China and an unnamed neighboring country occurs, with the caveat that both sides agree to limit their equipment to small arms including small boats, drones and anti-aircraft guns.
In that 2035 scenario, the PLA is tasked with striking swiftly and silently at key enemy installations including critical command and supply hubs deep behind enemy lines.
The UAVs purpose-built for special operations must be capable of operating both alone and in coordinated swarms, flying at extremely low altitudes, navigating obstacles, engaging beyond visual range and pursuing and eliminating enemy forces, the SCMP report said.
It notes that advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems must also