China has reconditioned a front-line airfield for patrolling the Diaoyutai islands over which it is in a dispute with Japan.
The drone flights are intended for the surveillance and reconnaissance of the Diaoyutai islands which are currently under Japanese rule.
Satellite images of April this year indicate that three BZK-005 unmanned aerial vehicles have been deployed to a small airfield on Daishan Island in the East China Sea, Global Times reported today.
China began to carry out construction of 11 airfields to cover its 14,500 kilometers of coastline back in 2012. The move followed the Japan’s announcement of its plan to nationalize the islands, which subsequently took place in September of that year.
Admiral Li Jie of the PLA Navy said previously that drones will be used to monitor foreign aircraft entering China's air defense identification zone.
In September 2013, a Chinese BZK-005 was encountered by F-15J fighters of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force over the Diaoyutai. It was the first time China had sent a drone to the area from Daishan.
The BZK-005 is developed by Harbin Aircraft Industry. Further, it has an operational range of 2,400 kilometers. The aircraft can stay in the air for up to 40 hours at an altitude of 2,600 feet.
Even though the drone is not armed, it still can be used to monitor naval activities of neighbours either in the East China Sea or even the South China Sea.