Xinjiang gets border patrol drones for better missions
Published: Jan 21, 2020 08:38 PM

A GJ-11 stealth attack drone makes its parade debut during the National Day parade held in Beijing on October 1, 2019. Photo: Fan Lingzhi/GT

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Xinjiang Military Command are using modified drones to conduct border patrol missions, as military experts said on Tuesday the drone technology is being popularized across Chinese military services.

One surveillance camera report said unidentified personnel were attempting to cross through border wire fences, and a fast-reaction team immediately set out, with a hexacopter drone leading the way for the troops, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Sunday.

Outfitted with a loudspeaker, the drone can be used to send warnings and expel the suspects.

Ignoring the warnings, the suspects continued to destroy the fences, but ground troops soon arrived, thanks to the drone's guidance and took the offenders in custody, CCTV reported.

Since the Xinjiang Military Command began to operate drones, border defense troops have received a significant boost in their combat capability and border security, Li Daguang, a professor at the National Defense University of the PLA in Beijing, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Troops in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region need to defend the    borders, whose width make it unrealistic to humanly cover, Li said, noting that drones can easily cover a large area and are much more efficient than people.

China is popularizing drone uses at basic level units, not only in the PLA, but also in the Armed Police, Li said.

Military observers suggested that China deploy larger armed reconnaissance drones in Xinjiang to boost its counter-terrorism efforts. 

They said this tactic has been proven useful by the US in its counter-terrorism missions in the Middle East, as this type of drones can patrol, look for and launch precision attacks on terrorists without risking the lives of frontline troops.

The PLA operates GJ series armed reconnaissance drones, including the standard GJ-1, the more powerful GJ-2 and the stealth GJ-11, reports said.

Li said the number of terrorists in China is now very limited compared with what the US had to face then, and terrorism has been declining in recent years, so the Chinese drones' main mission remains border patrol.

But it is still necessary to provide more troops with drones to help them with their missions, Li said.