China selling the high-end military drones to Pakistan needs to be watched carefully say, experts.Sharing his views with FE ONLINE, Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia (retd), former DGMO, “Drones are part of the future warfare and the Pakistan side is going for the Chinese Drones. Earlier they used to buy both the US and Chinese weapon systems.”

According to the former DGMO, “While the Pakistan side could use these for detecting gaps along our border, we are ready with our countermeasures.” However, Air Marshal M Matheswaran, former Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (DCIDS) at Air HQ said: “The announcement of China supplying 48 Wing Loong II drones to Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is significant. The timeline is not known but I suppose it will be done within three years. These MALE drones also have combat role as they can be armed.”

“PAF will get a boost to its ISR capability. Pak will also get the technology to manufacture it.

Would be interesting to compare our own Rustum drone development, which started at the same time as the Chinese. Ours is yet to see the light of the day!”, Matheswaran, who is now the Chairman & President, The Peninsula Foundation opined.

According to Lt Gen DS Hooda, former General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Indian army’s Northern Command, “The drones that China has sold to Pakistan are a significant capability enhancer. This is a new Chinese UAV with major improvements in range and weapon carrying capability.”

“India still does not have an armed UAV, “Hooda added.

Earlier, Jayadeva Ranade, President, Centre for China Analysis and Strategy had said that “China is a leading manufacturer of drones, and this supply to Pakistan is more for its internal security.”

However, “These drones can be used for border surveillance. They can be used watching over India. There is a possibility that Pakistan can get armed drones too,” the former Additional Secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat added.

The sale of 48 drones to Pakistan, which according to media reports is the largest defence sale by China to India’s neighbour comes soon after India and Russia inked a $ 5.5 bn deal for the S-400 missile defence system last week when President Vladmir Putin was in New Delhi for the annual summit.

While the cost of the deal is unknown, the Wing Loong II, is a high-end reconnaissance, strike and multi-role endurance unmanned aircraft system, and has been manufactured by Chengdu Aircraft Industrial (Group) Company.

This UAV had made its maiden flight in February last year, say agency reports and the system is composed of the ground station and a various number of unmanned aerial vehicles. Pointing out that the US drones the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper are technologically more advanced, however, their exports have been limited by Washington.

As reported by FE earlier, after having a deal to purchase Sea Guardian Unmanned Aerial Systems for the Indian Navy, New Delhi has initiated talks with the US for 100 jet-propelled Avenger Predator drones for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The estimated cost of these drones will if finalized touch $8 billion.

Though Pakistan had expressed its objections, the Trump administration has already paved the way for the Sea Guardian drones “at the highest levels” $2-bn.

According to reports, last month, the Indian army has been pushing for procuring mini-drones that could operate on high altitude. And for this has contracted Israeli SpyLite mini surveillance drones for its infantry units deployed along the high altitude range of the India-China border.

Reports in a section of the media indicated that the SpyLite mini-drone will be provided by Cyient Solutions and Systems Pvt. Ltd. (CSS), a joint venture between Cyient Ltd. and BlueBird Aero Systems of Israel, after successful trials.