Taking to the skies – China and India’s quest for UAVs

Journal of the Indian Ocean Region, 2014

Aditi Malhotra, Senior Research Fellow, ISSSP, National Institute of Advanced Studies

Viswesh R, Research Associate, ISSSP, National Institute of Advanced Studies

coverUnmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones, have undoubtedly attained a prominent position in contemporary and future defence technologies. Likewise, Asian militaries have continued to realise the operational value of such vehicles, whether for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) or combat purpose. In the current times, wherein UAVs are proliferating globally, it remains pivotal to understand their relevance, uses and implications, particularly with regard to emerging powers. It is in this context that the paper seeks to explore and compare the cases of the two rising Asian giants, India and China. The paper explores their UAV programmes, possible defence-oriented employments, and current technological capabilities to produce UAVs. The relevance of UAVs is assessed in terms of India and China’s present military doctrines, security requirements (current and future) and how the UAVs fit into their security landscape. Finally, the article delves into the strategic implications of the greater proliferation and rampant employment of UAVs in the region.

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