China’s state broadcaster, in a rare revelation, has shown video footage of a military UAV training together with the PLA’s J-16 fighter jet.
In the video clip dated yesterday, a UAV the size of a private airplane can be seen parked on the tarmac in front of two J-16 fighter jets.
The drone belongs to a UAV squadron within an unnamed regiment of the PLA Air Force Airborne Corps.
The leader of the squadron, Li Yang, a serviceman born in the 1990s, recently accepted an interview by the military channel of CCTV, the state-run broadcaster.
He is the face of China’s growing familiarity with UAVs in modern warfare.
Li joined the UAV squadron in 2016 and quickly fit in as a member known for his “combat readiness.”
Setting two records
During one of the many drone flight tests, the aircraft was required to fly close to its highest altitude while also making attempts to achieve air-to-ground coordination.
This mission was so complicated and risky that when everyone on his team was hesitant during the briefing, Li rose to his feet and volunteered.
He accomplished the mission with two records set in the history of the Airborne Corps, CCTV reported.
The state broadcaster also highlighted Li’s spirit of sacrifice and devotion.
During an exercise in the wilderness of China’s northwestern region, he frequently walked between the shooting range and the place where troops were garrisoned, to study the local topography and environment.
To ensure the results of the live-fire drill, he wore out three pair of boots, the CCTV footage said.
Fight to win
Li also showed his wisdom in figuring out more than a dozen drone combat tactics that have been tried to improve the odds of fighting and winning wars.
He also came up with the concept of “drone minus” and “drone plus,” meaning the need to reduce logistics support for the drone squadron and to integrate the drone tactics into a combat unit, respectively.
Around the world, drones have been increasingly weaponized in modern warfare or even terrorist activities to strike targets of value from afar. Governments have proceeded to step up scrutiny of drone activity.
According to Li, in the future, war will be a rivalry in cognitive terms. For those who are tasked with manipulating autonomous equipment or weapons, their concepts and understanding will be the key to the outcomes of wars, he explained, emphasizing the role of drone technology in PLA training.
“The role played by autonomous weapons is far greater than what many expected,” he stated. “I want to be real reformer to push for changes.”