China has supplied armed drones to 11 countries including Pakistan, according to a new research paper on Chinese drone exports.
The paper is written by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Texas A&M University. And, the excerpts were published in Foreign Affairs website, according to a report on The Print on Monday (November 23).
The paper revealed that 18 countries obtained armed drones between 2011 and 2019. Eleven of these countries bought the drones from China, the paper said.
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“Armed drones are proliferating rapidly, and drone warfare is thus likely to become even more prevalent in the coming years. Our research shows that 18 countries obtained armed drones from 2011 to 2019. By contrast, prior to 2011 just three countries,” it said.
The US, United Kingdom and Israel had armed drones before 2011.
Also, the report said that China is exporting a whole bunch of assault rifles, ammunition, fighter planes and even submarines.
“The rapid rise in drone deployment has coincided with China’s emergence as a major supplier,” the research paper said.
It added that at least as early as 2011, China started negotiating with countries such as the UAE and Pakistan to sell them armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
According to the paper, the US just supplied drones to France during this period, while it is in negotiations with India to sell armed predator drones.
“Since then, China has dominated the export market for armed UAVs. Of the 18 countries that have acquired armed drones since 2010 (not including China), 11 have bought from China,” it said and added that the countries include Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Uzbekistan, among others.
China is not a member of Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), and this has helped the country to export armed drones. The MTCR is an informal political understanding among states that seek to limit the proliferation of missiles and missile technology. The regime was formed in 1987 by the G-7 industrialised countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the United States).
The MTCR seeks to limit the risks of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by controlling exports of goods and technologies that could make a contribution to delivery systems (other than manned aircraft) for such weapons.
In January, a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) suggested that China’s weapons production, which has previously been shrouded in mystery owing to a lack of transparency, has grown as three of the world’s top 10 arms companies are Chinese, Japan Times reported.
“We can with confidence say that China is the second-largest arms producer in the world, behind the U.S. and ahead of Russia,” said Nan Tian, co-author of the report.