NEW DELHI: New Delhi appears unruffled over reports that Pakistan is acquiring 48 Chinese Wing Loong II series armed drones along with a transfer of technology. The Wing Loong II series drones, manufactured by China’s state-owned Chengdu Aircraft Industrial, is a reconnaissance and strike multi-role endurance system. Reports said the drones would eventually be jointly manufactured by Chengdu Aircraft and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex-Kamra, and strengthen inter-operability between China’s People’s Liberation Army and the Pakistani military.
Though costs were not mentioned, China had reportedly sold Wing Loong II for US $1 million-a-piece to Egypt and the UAE last year. The announcement comes days after India signed a $5.43-billion deal to buy five Russian S-400 Triumf missile shield system which can track and destroy multiple aerial targets, including drones, from almost 400 km away.
While Indian defence sources were nonchalant, saying these drones would be good “target practice” for India’s existing air defence systems, one of them pointed out that if “deployed in significant numbers, these drones could even challenge the S400, simply because it would cost India significantly more to bring them all down, than it does for Pakistan to build them”.
India officially operates three drone squadrons of about 200 drones, mostly the Israeli Searcher and Heron series, as well as the Harpy, which is designed to attack hostile radar systems. Though the first two are recon and surveillance craft, some officials hinted that they could be “converted to carry missile payloads” at short notice.
Another official said that with India signing the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement, it would soon be able to buy the US General Atomics MQ-9 Guardian/Predator-B long-range unmanned combat aerial vehicle.