China to deploy drones to conduct maritime surveillance
Amid increasing maritime disputes with a host of its neighbours, China today said it plans to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) along its coast line to conduct "remote-sensing marine surveillance."
"The plan also includes the construction of 11 UAV bases run by provincial maritime authorities," Yu Qingsong, a division chief of the State Oceanic Administration, said.
No further details on the scale or the schedule of the project were provided, but Yu noted that at least one drone would be stationed at each base, state-run Xinhua news agency reported today.
The announcement came in the midst of maritime tensions between China and host of its neighbours over the disputed islands in the South and North China Sea.
The Xinhua report said China had earlier launched trial program last year in Liaoning Province where rented Drones were successfully used to take aerial photos of a 980 square kilometer sea area.
Local authorities said they could use the high-definition photos to discover illegal land reclamation and sand dredging as well as monitor marine environments along the coast and on islets.
A separate test on a drone-based 3D monitoring system was also conducted earlier this year by the maritime authority in east China's Jiangsu Province, the report said.