Serbia’s military will receive Chinese-built armed drones in the coming months, marking the first time Chinese remotely piloted aircraft have been sold to a European country, officials said Tuesday.
Serbia will take delivery of nine Chengdu Pterodactyl-1 drones within six months, with a possible follow-on order of 15 more, media reports in Belgrade said.
China’s sale of the unmanned aircraft is believed to be its largest export of military equipment to Europe in recent decades, and marks Beijing’s most significant foray into a continent where armed forces have traditionally relied on U.S. and European weapon-makers.
Beijing has become increasingly economically engaged in Serbia and elsewhere in southeastern Europe as part of its global Belt and Road campaign, particularly in infrastructure projects such as roads, railways and ports.
Recent moves by China on or near NATO’s turf have attracted U.S. scrutiny. At U.S. European Command headquarters in Stuttgart, officials have expressed concern about China purchasing stakes in numerous European ports, and about China’s “polar silk road” Arctic ambitions. (end of excerpt)
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