My inner cynic became extremely cranky after I read this New York Times article: Growth in China’s Drone Program Called ‘Alarming’. The message here is that China has ramped up its unmanned aerial drone program, which could be some sort of threat to U.S. superiority in this field in the future.
Question: Why is it OK for the U.S. to not only have a drone program, but also to use it, often times illegally, to bomb the crap out of folks (suspected terrorists as well as civilians) in Central Asia, but it’s not at all cool for China to develop the same technology?
Traditionally, the U.S./Western response to this sort of question about weapons of mass destruction is an assurance that “We are responsible nations and only use these weapons systems in appropriate situations, but other nations are untrustworthy.” People who lost family members in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, etc. may have a different point of view, but that’s a can of worms I probably shouldn’t open at this time.
Personally, I have a hard time supporting the following “concerns”:
“In a worrisome trend, China has ramped up research in recent years faster than any other country,” said the unclassified analysis published in July by the Defense Science Board. “It displayed its first unmanned system model at the Zhuhai air show five years ago, and now every major manufacturer for the Chinese military has a research center devoted to unmanned systems.”
The report, which said “the military significance of China’s move into unmanned systems is alarming,” suggested that China could “easily match or outpace U.S. spending on unmanned systems, rapidly close the technology gaps and become a formidable global competitor in unmanned systems.”
Pardon my cynicism, but this is either evidence of a double standard or simply push back from defense contractors worried about a little competition; either way, I have zero sympathy. As to the competition theory, check out this Wired piece on the new Chinese drones, paying special attention to the price differential (i.e., the high-quality U.S. offering is 30 times more expensive than the Chinese counterpart).
There’s a lot of money at stake here. Keep that in mind the next time you hear some blowhard “patriot” on Capitol Hill concern trolling about Chinese drone technology.