September 27, 2013

The drones in East Asia are a risk?

Featuring Ben FitzGerald, Ely Ratner, and Shawn Brimley

Source: Formiche

Journalist Andrea Pira

China is making room in the international market for drones for military purposes. The number of buyers for the Wing Loong , unmanned aircraft entirely developed and produced in China is growing, writes the China Daily .

"Customers using the Wing Loong are more than two. According to what they told us they are very pleased with the performance and capacity of the medium, "he herringbone But Zhiping , manager of the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corp, quoted by the newspaper in English, speaking at the 15th aviation exhibition in Beijing .

Even in June there were only two countries that had been entrusted to the Wing Loong, as mentioned by the same But then, now suggests that the buyers can be three if not more. The Chinese press emphasizes the export outlook for aircraft produced by CATIC. "Many countries are realizing the benefits extensive use of drones and the majority must import them," saidWang Yanan , deputy director of Aerospace Knowledge magazine.

Chinese products are described as a viable alternative to Western media. Beijing's activism in the development program of its aircraft piloted remotely, however, is proving to be a new theme of friction in relations with the United States. Last week the New York Times reported intrusions conducted by Chinese hackers in systems of at least 20 companies related to the defense sector to steal data on the technology of drones.

Behind the operations there would be a group called Comment Crew and attacks would start from a building on the outskirts of Shanghai. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spoke of allegations "based on nothing" and has denied the involvement of the army. For the umpteenth time he repeated the repartee between Washington and Beijing  , which in turn, has remarked on how the Chinese themselves are targets of cyber attacks. 
"Beijing deploys its resources in hypothetical combat arenas," writes the New York Time s. At the end of last year, it was hypothesized that it was  a drone to hunt down and kill a drug lord Burmese accused of being behind the death of some Chinese sailors on the Mekong River. While at the beginning of the month, Japan has detected a Chinese aircraft around the Senkaku-Diaoyu , as they are called islets disputed between the two countries depending on whether you are using the name Japanese or Japanese. A flight made ​​in symbolic days, those of the first anniversary of the re-nationalization of the Japanese islands at the center of the dispute, purchased a year ago by the private owners.

The risk that the use of drones could precipitate the situation of disputes in the East China Sea has been debated on Foreign Policy and The Diplomat, on opposite sides. In the U.S. journal, Shawn Brimley, Ben FitzGerald, and Ely Ratner of the Center for New American Security , see the remotely piloted aircraft as a threat and the risk that minor disputes can escalate into open conflict.

"The problem is not the drones themselves. Asia is in the midst of the transition to a new regime to combat a serious risk of escalation. The modernization of China's military seeks to prevent the possibility of movement of the opponents up and down the East China Sea and South America.Although China claims that its strategy is primarily defensive, the possibility of earning defensive perimeter, with long-range missiles, aircraft carriers, submarines is offensive in nature, "  they write .

The authors say they are also very optimistic about the lack of experience of the military and governments in the region to manage the technology without a pilot. For example, they ask how far these leaders would be ready to go knowing that life is not at risk of pilots. "In the absence of political leadership," they conclude, "these technologies could lead to a regional war.

A different opinion is instead James Holmes on The Diplomat , convinced that the real risk is not the drones, but in submarines. The planes are controlled remotely more easily intercepted, he writes, and this gives way to weigh the answers: send means to escort them out of the airspace, to intervene through diplomatic channels, to put them down knowing even against a country militarily stronger. The use of drones is part of the "diplomacy of the stick" , a bit 'as sent patrols in disputed waters.

(Translated from the originial Italian)

  • Ben FitzGerald

    Former Senior Fellow and Director, Technology and National Security Program

    Ben FitzGerald was a Senior Fellow and Director of the Technology and National Security Program at CNAS. In this capacity, Mr. FitzGerald led CNAS efforts to explore...

  • Ely Ratner

  • Shawn Brimley

    Executive Vice President and Director of Studies

    Shawn Brimley is Executive Vice President and Director of Studies at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) where he manages the center’s research agenda and staff. Mr....