Chinese military aircraft at the Shigatse air base enhance the PLA’s intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance (ISR), Electronic Warfare (EW), and limited strike capabilities, far surpassing India’s.
However, the drones may not be the force multiplier that would increase the PLAAF’s war against India, experts believe. Nevertheless, it would be prudent for India not to underestimate the major strategic impact of these systems in both air and ground campaigns.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), one of which is the most advanced WZ-7′ Soaring Dragon. satellite images released by Planet Labs of Shigatse shows, were spotted in Shigatse two days after Indian troops and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) clashed in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang.
China has been using drones for a long time, and their employment is not surprising. But their appearance at a key military airbase soon after a standoff with Indian troops suggests an escalation was expected.
The photo showed 0 jets of what appeared to be J-16 fighters, an Airborne Early Warning (AEW) like KJ-500, a drone, possibly a CH-7, and another unidentified UAV. WZ. -7.
Our latest Downlink looks at what appears to be a major development in drone and other aviation activities at China’s Shigatse Airport in Tibet near the Indian border. It comes as new border conflicts have recently erupted: pic.twitter.com/SiWhD1Uonl
— The War Zone (@thewarzonewire) December 13, 2022
The WZ-7 has a distinctive diamond-shaped wing, and a horizontal configuration – the wings are swept back while the tails are swept forward.
Big UAVs Are Sitting Ducks In India?
Experts believe that UAVs will not improve the reach of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s (PLAAF) and reliable wing-like missiles or defeat India’s fighter jets and defense aircraft.
But if China focuses on warfare in the electronic spectrum, supported by the known industrial development in electronic and computer technology, high-altitude, long-endurance, and medium-altitude long-endurance drones (HALE and MALE) can be expected to be and influence. Indian military communications and radio frequency.
The need to understand the possible future role that these drones may play has been increased by the lack of land often cited by China on its border with India – high winds that prevent fighters from taking their full responsibility.
Air combat experts ruled that reconnaissance strike UAVs may be intended to share some of the payload and combat duties of the J-11, J-10, J-16, or J-20 fighters.
For one thing, remotely piloted drones cannot perform the tight maneuvering in general and especially the delicate movements required in the valley, given the control time.
“This leaves them with the opportunity to fly high above the valleys, making them easy targets for air defense systems,” said former IAF pilot Rajiv Tyagi.
Tyagi also clarifies that the unfairness of the payment burden at higher places is only relative. “A small salary does not mean that there is no responsibility. It means that instead of 5,000 kg, the plane can only carry 4,000 kg”.
In addition, Shigatse Peace Airport, a dual-use military airport, has the third longest runway in the world to help with this disability – allowing soldiers to take off with heavy luggage. Shigatse is at an altitude of 5,000 meters, and the airports in Tibet have the longest runways in the world.
Even autonomous drones will have to fly above the valley, making them ducks for SAM systems. “Furthermore, autonomous drones cannot be idle unless they are suicide/kamikaze drones. They are scheduled to go to a certain place, release their weapons and fly back,” said Tyagi.
How Will China Use Them?
Tyagi admits that the UAVs are designed to produce more precise information on targets for the Indian military, which may not be strategic.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Army would be wise to consider China’s propensity for anti-access/area denial warfare with long-range missile strikes in the western Pacific and may repeat the same practice here.
The IAF is reportedly planning to use small airfields scattered across northern India to deploy its bombers and not large airfields that could be subject to Chinese missile attacks.
If “convergence” in doctrine and military thinking between the services is indeed achieved, the Indian Army, too, hopefully, shares this assessment of Chinese military doctrine and thinking.
Therefore, it is hoped that India’s ground forces will be flexible enough to keep their command, control, and assets dispersed and unconcentrated, where a single Chinese strike could cripple ground operations and change the course of the war.
Even if the Chinese do not use UAVs in strikes, they can be expected to have significant electronic warfare (EW) capabilities such as electronics intelligence (ELIN), optical search, and radar detection, according to former IAF Jaguar pilot, Group Leader Vijainder K. . Thakur.
The latter role is a key component in enemy air defense suppression/destruction of enemy air defense activities (SEAD/DEAD), where data collected by drones will be used to release anti-radiation missiles.
The WZ-7 is the Chinese equivalent of the US RQ-4B Global Hawk HALE-class drone. It can be safely assumed that it has artificial intelligence (AI) enabled networking and sensor integration, heavily encrypted data links to share battlefield information with combat forces, and ISR links with Chinese satellites.
This is in line with its concept of ‘Intelligentized Warfare’, reports the EurAsian Times. It is believed to have a working range of 7,000 kilometers and an endurance of 10 hours.
Some analysts believe that assets such as the WZ-7 and the J-16D – a new type of electronic warfare aircraft – will be used simultaneously, where the surveillance information collected by the WZ-7 will be shared with the J-16D.
The IJ-16D, with large electronic warfare (EW) pods on both ends of its wings, can accompany other aircraft on their missions and provide EW support such as jamming, deception, and signals intelligence (SIGINT).
However, India does not have a fully functional, diversified, and integrated drone system, except for the Heron series of Israeli origin.