The Chinese stealth fighter jets will be capable of remotely controlling drones via satellite in the coming five years.
Chinese fighters J-20 and J-31 will be capable of mobilizing the drones for battle by serving as their control platforms, Xu Yongling, a retired PLA chief test pilot and an expert at the Chinese Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics was quoted as saying at a recent defense seminar, Cankaoxiaoxi newspaper reported.
"China could achieve the technology within five years. Chinese fighter jets will have the ability to control drones in real time in battles in the Indian Ocean, the west Pacific Ocean and South China Sea," Global Times reported quoting Xu as saying on Tuesday.
The J-20 and J-31 can remotely control up to six large drones armed with missiles or a fleet of smaller drones if they are equipped with Artificial Intelligence, Fu Qianshao, another air defense expert, said.
The AI technology is much more likely to be first used in twin-pilot aircraft, like third-generation fighter jets such as the J-10 and J-16. One pilot would process the data transmitted from drones, while the other pilot focuses on the manned mission, Fu said.
However, Xu admitted that the technology poses a problem. "It's unknown if the fighter jets can reconfigure the missions of the drones in time with keyboard commands. Current drones are all programmed, which means their missions cannot be altered in the air."