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  • Writer's pictureGeorge M James


Updated: Sep 13, 2020

Chinese military drones are no laughing matter

Recently I read an article about drones delivering warm food to Chinese soldiers in the disputed border area. Many found the idea funny, a joke. Yet, history tells us that China defeated India when they clashed. A major war is totally unlikely despite the Western media trying hard to predict just such a war. The two countries are BRICS partners and will stay partners. Read my books to understand why BRICS is so important from a strategic view.

In Code Name Unbutton, GMJ 43, I looked at Chinese drone technology – the book is about the capture of a US Navy drone ship by covert means – and found out that China now deploys what analysts describe as high-end reconnaissance-strike unmanned aerial system (UAS) drones. These drones can hit 5 targets and launch 5 different types of missiles in a single sortie, controlled by a single operator. A 100% hit rate, and at fast-moving targets. Now, this may not sound to you like much, we know that the US and other countries used drones for decades, we also know that they have a 96.5% failure rate in hitting the intended target, the most pathetic record on counterinsurgency/counter-terrorism in the world. But to put the new Chinese UAS in perspective, its US counterpart had not one-hit reported in 8 years of development. The way the Chinese use their drones is also unique, they are also cargo lifters able to get in close and drop much-needed supplies quicker – on average 90 minutes quicker - and safer than any fixed-wing or helicopter can do. The operating costs of a drone are very much cheaper as well and no human lives are risked – it costs time and money to train pilots. But that is not all, the drones, like their counterparts elsewhere, have advanced electronics to jam radar and fight back (see Code Name Blue Tang how the South African Air Force uses theirs as force-multipliers and AEW).

How did this come about? Stealing US technology? Perhaps but probably not. Average internet speeds are said to be faster in rural China than in the US Midwest. The average Chinese child has more mathematical know-how than almost any other anywhere in the world, this is not by chance, it is part of the pattern on how they do things, step by step. Do you know, and research this, that Beijing wants to create a $150bn Artificial Intelligence Industry by 2030? If they do this and every indication is that they will, the US will be left far behind. Most of the engineering Ph.D. candidates in the US are from China and they go home when done to teach others.

What about sea warfare? With surface drones, the Chinese are way ahead of the Americans. In Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, China, you will find the world’s largest facility for testing surface drones. They are relentlessly moving further ahead all the time. Not one of these vessels, drones, even those flying in low orbit, requires a human to help them along, they are, as the Chinese say, “fearless” and will do whatever they are programmed to do. Although we sometimes use the word “torpedo” to describe them, to get an idea what they look like, they are in fact much larger with the capacity to carry tons of equipment or weapon systems or powerful surveillance equipment or missiles.

This gives them a great amount of flexibility leading to force multipliers that the West cannot even dream about. Now note the difference, a surface drone is defensive, a countermeasure, on the backfoot, slow to react. An underwater drone or one in the air, in space even, is offensive, the hunters to be countered. Can they attack? Hell yes, and if needs be, they will ram what even they can’t damage when out of options. It is frightening and a subject touched on in the modern SOSUS lines in Code Name Lucy. The difference is, these are moving around, not waiting in ambush, they go after you actively. They are not static weapons at all. Visualize a US carrier task force suddenly surrounded by enemy drones. Some pop up to the surface and launch volleys of smart missiles able to dodge other missiles, all with a 2,000 lb warhead which might even be a small nuke, they have that capability. Recall that US anti-ship missiles have three times less HE in their warheads and facing the best CIWS in the world. At the same time, the attack comes from below with torpedoes running at 230 mph, yes, that speed. There is no warning or not enough to react.

By every war simulation run by supercomputers factoring every likely and known US response, we know them all, that carrier group will be defeated, and most vessels sunk or put out of commission within minutes. And you know what, the world will cheer, the US will find out she stands alone. That is the ultimate sad part of it, the one caused by “exceptionalism” policies.

The West has nothing to compete with and is unlikely to have anything soon. Boeing has something that they are proud of, an experimental underwater drone capable of reaching speeds of 8 knots and dive to 9,842 feet whilst carrying 8 tons of cargo. Sadly, this machine must surface every now and then to recharge the batteries, the same as a World War Two submarine, using diesel engines to charge the batteries. Useless is as useless does. Too slow, it will take weeks, months to get to the likely enemy unless transported there as deck cargo. It cannot defend itself either, useless, useless, and useless. But hey, it is “magnificent, the best in the world” - such crap you hear in the Washington Swamp.

At this time, the world leader in this field is Russia with its Status-6 drone able to carry a 100-megaton nuclear warhead. Since it is nuclear powered, known as “Poseidon” by the Russians and “Kanyon” by the CIA, it does not need to surface except to receive orders, and only if needed. It will outrun and outsprint all known US or NATO torpedoes by a fair margin. It goes deeper than any Western torpedo can go and is stealthy by design. Currently, 2018, there is nothing to stop or counter this weapon, not even on the design boards, and guess who is following suit, yes, China and overtaking their teachers, the Russians.

I can only shake my head in frustration at the lack of knowledge. Let us not laugh at drones bringing food to individual soldiers patrolling remote mountainous areas. It is a bloody brilliant innovation.

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