June 10, 2007:
determined to develop state-of-the-air UAVs, but has so far been frustrated by
American success at preventing the transfer of UAV technology to China. Before
the U.S. cracked down, China has obtained sufficient Israeli UAV technology to
build stuff like the ASN-105, a 308 pound aircraft with a payload if 88 pounds and
endurance of only two hours. These have recently been converted from using film
cameras, to video cameras. A larger UAV, the ASN-206, weighs 488 pounds, and
has much more endurance (about eight hours). China can use off-the-shelf
technology for the vidcams and communications. But they are discovering, as the
U.S. did, that building a reliable UAV (airframe, engine, electrical system) is
where the real challenge is. Thus China is putting a lot of money and talent
into building competitive UAVs. This effort includes getting, via purchase,
theft or bribery, as much useful foreign UAV technology as possible.
Counter-intelligence agencies in the West have noted an increased Chinese
interest in UAV technology.