China has set up specialized unit to detect and deal with small Unmanned Aircraft (UAV) within its People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLA Air Force).
Small, slow-moving drones flying at an altitude of less than 1000 meters will be the main focus for the unit to detect, the PLA Air Force said in a news release last week.
The number of such targets engaged or when the unit was set up was not revealed, China Daily news reported quoting the release.
Small drones can pose a substantial threat to key positions as their size makes them difficult to detect with radar, the news release explained.
To combat this, the unit performs drills against a squadron equipped with multiple types of drones to simulate reconnaissance, infiltration or strike operations.
Unit commander Liu Hui was quoted as saying that his men have been closely following developments in the aviation industry and keep improving their drone database.
As unmanned aircraft have become increasingly popular in China, their use has sometimes brought civilians and businesses into conflict with the police, civil aviation and military authorities.
In November, a PLA Air Force helicopter unit in Hebei province discovered a drone flying near a military airport without authorization.
The aircraft was grounded and soldiers were sent to assist the police, who apprehended the drone's operators.
Further investigation found that the drone was owned by an aviation technology company in Beijing that had not requested prior approval for the flight from any civil aviation or military authority.
In another case, a video clip that was published online showing a drone flying near a manned fighter jet as it came in to land drew criticism from the military, as such actions compromise both the safety of the aircraft and people on the ground, the PLA Daily reported.