China's State Oceanic Administration (SOA) recently disclosed that its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) remote sensing marine surveillance pilot project has entered the final stage, and 11 UAV bases will be built in 11 provincial-level regions along the country's coastline so as to monitor its vast territorial waters using UAVs, according to the China National Radio.
Why does China want to use UAVs to conduct remote sensing surveillance in its coastal areas? What are the advantages of UAVs? How good is China at conducting surveillance using UAVs compared to foreign countries? The reporter asked a dedicated UAV researcher at Guizhou Aircraft Industry Corporation under the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) these questions in an interview.
According to the researcher, UAVs as remote sensing platforms allow flexible monitoring scope and areas, and can send back relatively accurate and clear images. By contrast, satellite remote sensing systems tend to send back low-resolution images, and manned aircraft are limited in monitoring scope. UAVs have at least three advantages. First, they can fly long duration over the sea at a time. Second, they can adjust their flying height to capture clearer photos of targets. Third, they can work day and night on both sunny and rainy days, and adapt to new weather conditions quickly. The most important thing about UAVs is that they can help avoid military casualties. As they are unmanned vehicles that carry no risk to the safety of remote operators, UAVs can fly for more than 10 or 20 hours over the sea conducting reconnaissance missions and real-time monitoring of the country's territorial waters.
The United States, Israel, and South Africa are the first countries to develop UAV remote sensing monitoring technologies, and China and Japan are just latecomers in this field. Japan will sooner or later use UAVs to monitor its territorial waters. China has made relatively rapid progress in this regard thanks to the hard efforts of domestic aviation researchers over the past several years. All countries that have the aviation industry are developing UAV technologies. In the long run, UAVs are bound to gradually replace manned aircraft in many areas.
The UAV remote sensing marine surveillance pilot project is one of the SOA's key priorities in 2012. Launched more than half a year ago, the pilot project has progressed smoothly and basically completed the main tasks assigned by the SOA. During the process, the SOA has trained a technical team proficient in using UAVs to conduct remote sensing marine surveillance.