May 27, 2016

China has deployed unmanned aerial vehicles to South China Sea

New satellite imagery obtained by Fox News shows that China, for the first time, has deployed a drone with stealth technology to a contested island in the South China Sea, in another sign of escalating tensions in the region.

The new development comes as President Obama visits Japan. He lifted an arms embargo against Vietnam while visiting Hanoi earlier this week, drawing criticism from the Chinese government about stoking tensions in the region.

The newly obtained satellite images from ImageSat International (ISI) show a Chinese Harbin BZK-005 long range reconnaissance drone on Woody Island in the South China Sea.

The drone can remain airborne for up to 40 hours.

The Chinese drone did not appear armed in the satellite image taken last month. For the time being, the BZK-005 does not have the capability to fire missiles, unlike other drones in China’s inventory.

Other satellite images show some of the recently deployed HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island transferred from one cluster on the northern part of the island to other locations in a move most likely to make them more difficult to destroy in a potential air strike.

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