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China developing drone fleet against U.S

The Beijing administration, which has been focusing on the modernization of its army, has commenced producing an expansive fleet of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in recent years in order to improve its effectiveness against the United States in the Pacific region, a new analysis of the country's program suggests. The administration in Washington claims that China, which has sped up its efforts in the struggle for influence in the Pacific Ocean region in recent years, is allegedly preparing the world's largest fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles. According to a recent report published at the beginning of this week by the Virginia-based Project 2049 Institute think-tank, in response to the U.S. Navy's plan to enlarge its Pacific fleet and build new bases in the region, China is building new warships and planning to focus on UAVs in order to gain supremacy over American aircraft carriers.

The report suggests that China's fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, could be technologically superior and might have the ability to "swarm" in attacking an American aircraft carrier.

"The Chinese have done an overwhelming number of studies discussing using UAVs as having the capabilities of hitting U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups. That's what they're planning to do."

Researchers Ian Easton and L.C. Russell Hsiao emphasized that China controls one of the world's most expensive UAV fleets.

Easton states that, as in many other industries, "there's no question" that China likely caught up to the U.S. through a cyber warfare campaign to steal technological secrets  since the country has UAVs "that look exactly like our Predator or the Global Hawk."

Debate in Washington is ongoing regarding new cyber security legislation as officials from the Obama administration have called for stronger security, accusing China and Russia of hacking U.S. computer networks for economic gain, espionage and other motives. 

However, the number of Chinese UAVs is still far behind the United States, the Project 2044 Institute report indicated. According to data from 2011, records show that the Chinese Army has 280 UAVs at hand while the U.S. Army controls over 679.

It is stated that Chinese experts are working on a next-generation UAV named the “Dark Sword” which flies at low altitudes so as not to get caught by radars.

It has also been suggested that China is seeking the production of “space UAVs” which fly at altitudes of 50 kilometers.

Obama’s administration first announced its "return-to-Asia" strategic shift in 2009 at the ASEAN Regional Forum in Singapore. In May 2012, Obama announced a plan to cut American troops in Europe and increase the US military presence in the Asia-Pacific region in accordance with the new "Asia pivot" strategy.

In June 2012, spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry Liu Weimin said that the United States is "not in step with the times" in seeking to bolster its military presence in the Pacific region. Weimin's statement arrived after an announcement by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that 60% of the U.S. naval fleet will sail the Pacific by 2020.

China has advertised its long-term military ambitions with shows of new hardware, including its first test flight of a stealth fighter jet in early 2011 and its launch of a fledgling aircraft carrier - both trials of technologies needing years more of development.

Beijing is also building new submarines, surface ships and anti-ship ballistic missiles as part of its naval modernisation, and has tested emerging technology aimed at destroying missiles in mid-air.

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