US to make greater use of drones to spy on China: Experts

Washington: The United States is all set to spy on China by using drones in a better way to monitor its skies as the military confrontation between the two countries in the region escalates.

According to the experts, US spy drones have set to become a more frequent sight in the skies around China as the military confrontation between the two countries in the region ramps up another notch, reported South China Morning Post.

“Two MQ-4C Triton drones had been temporarily relocated from Guam to the Misawa base in northern Japan. It was the first time the high-altitude long endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) had been deployed to Japan,” the US Navy has said last week.

These drones at Misawa air base in Japan’s Aomori prefecture for five months, the first drone was put into service earlier in the day, Kyodo news agency reported on May 16.

According to the agency, the Japanese Defense Ministry believes that the temporary deployment of a long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle for reconnaissance will boost security by enhancing the country’s ability to monitor activities in Japan’s and surrounding waters.

The Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton can stay in the air for up to 30 hours and climb to an altitude of 17,000 meters (10.5 miles), which will allow Japan to monitor vast sea areas.

 In recent years, Japan has been particularly concerned about China’s activity near the disputed Senkaku Islands (known in mainland China as the Diaoyu Islands), and regular entry by Chinese patrol ships into Japan’s territorial waters.

The drones were the first to be deployed to the Pacific when they were sent to Guam early last year. Since then they have carried out surveillance missions around China, including over the Taiwan Strait and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) bases along the coast, and near to Beijing’s military facilities on artificial islands in the South China Sea, according to open-source aviation monitoring data, the South China Morning Post.

 SCMP said. On Tuesday (May 16), a Triton was recorded accompanying two P-8A anti-submarine patrol aircraft, an EP-3E electronic reconnaissance aircraft and a USAF RC-135W electronic reconnaissance aircraft on a mission over the South China Sea.

It focused on the southern end of the Taiwan Strait, and flew close to the Chinese coast near the PLA naval port of Shantou, it added further.

The Tritons will join other US naval spy planes at Misawa airbase in Aomori, near the northern tip of Honshu Island, including the manned P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, “giving the navy an opportunity to test out the capability over more congested waters and other different environmental factors”, the US Navy statement said, as per the news agency.