BEIJING, March 9 China's largest missile maker
is developing military drones with stealth abilities that can
evade anti-aircraft weapons, the official China Daily said on
Thursday, in another advance for the country's ambitious
military modernisation programme.
"Drones have become an indispensable weapon in modern
warfare because they can play an important role in
high-resolution reconnaissance, long-distance precision strikes,
anti-submarine operations and aerial combat," Wei Yiyin, deputy
general manager of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp,
told the English language newspaper.
Insisting it has no hostile intent, China is investing
billions of dollars to update ageing equipment and develop new
weapons, including stealth fighters and aircraft carriers.
Its heavy defence spending, however, has unnerved a region
already on guard over Beijing's more assertive approach to
disputes in the South and East China Seas and over self-ruled
Taiwan, claimed by China as a wayward province.
Wei told the newspaper his company was also developing
near-space and long-range endurance drones.
The paper described China Aerospace Science and Industry
Corp as the country's sole producer of cruise missiles, and said
the drones also resembled cruise missiles.
China has stepped up research into military drones, hoping
to take market share from the United States and Israel with its
cheaper technology and willingness to sell to countries that
Western states are reluctant to deal with.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)