> our title:

China Prepares New Base for UAV Operations

> original title:

Zhoushan Airfield Repaired For Drone Patrols Over Diaoyutai

(Source: Want China Times; published July 01, 2015)

A BZK-005 Soar Dragon medium-altitude, long endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle photographed at its future operational base on Daishan island, from where it will be used to monitor activity over the Senkaku Islands. (Global Times)

To carry out regular patrols over disputed islands under Japanese administration in the East China Sea, China's People's Liberation Army has recently completed the reconditioning of a front-line airfield, according to the Communist Party publication Global Times on July 1.

Satellite images from April this year indicate three BZK-005 unmanned aerial vehicles have been deployed to a small airfield on Daishan island of Zhoushan in the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang. The drones will be able from there to carry out routine patrols over the East China Sea covering the disputed Diaoyutai islands (known as Diaoyu to China and Senkaku to Japan).

China began to carry out construction of 11 airfields to cover its 14,500 kilometers of coastline back in 2012 after Japan announced its plan to nationalize the islands, whicb subsequently took place in September of that year.

Admiral Li Jie of the PLA Navy had said earlier that drones will be used to monitor foreign aircraft entering China's air defense identification zone. In September 2013, a Chinese BZK-005 was encountered by F-15J fighters of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force over the Diaoyutai, the first time China had sent a drone to the area from Daishan. To allow unmanned aerial vehicles to operate in the region on a routine basis, it was decided to recondition the airfield at Daishan.

Developed by Harbin Aircraft Industry, the BZK-005 has a operational range of 2,400 kilometers. The aircraft can stay in the air for up to 40 hours at an altitude of 2,600 feet.

Though the drone is not weaponized, it can still be used to monitor naval activities of neighbors in the East China Sea or perhaps even the South China Sea, Global Times said.