The US drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Iraq has raised concerns from Chinese netizens of drones being an increasingly dangerous instrument of war that could one day threaten China.
China is fully capable of defending targeted drone attacks and places great importance on having a complete air defense system and powerful military strength as deterrent, Chinese experts said on Sunday.
Sixty-two-year-old Soleimani, head of Iran's elite Quds Force, was killed by a missile fired from a US drone when he was near Baghdad's international airport in Iraq on Friday, CGTN reported.
Chinese netizens and media feared targeted strikes from drones are changing the way a war is fought, which is very dangerous as such attacks are more unpredictable and ruthless.
China has a complete national air defense system, making it very capable of defending surprise and targeted strikes from drones, Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military analyst, told the Global Times on Sunday.
China operates detection and early warning radars both on land and in the air, so it can spot hostile drones from multiple angles and levels, Wei said, noting that the drones will then face China's aircraft interception network consisting of long, intermediate and short-range, as well as high, mid and low-altitude anti-aircraft missiles and guns.
Soft kill is also an available option, which means China can jam enemy drones, Wei said.
China's air defense system was displayed in the National Day military parade held in Beijing on October 1, 2019, in which the country showcased its vehicle-based early warning radar, early warning aircraft, multiple types of air defense missile and gun systems and information-based warfare and jamming vehicles.
Wei noted that while people within China are well-protected by the air defense network, those who travel abroad may still face threats from drones.
That was the case with Soleimani, who was killed in Iraq rather than Iran.
Personnel such as China's UN peacekeeping troops may encounter drone attacks from local armed forces, and China should equip them with more anti-drone equipment such as laser weapons and jamming devices, Wei said.
China's overall military strength, especially its nuclear capability, acts as a deterrent so no country would dare to launch a targeted drone attack on Chinese overseas citizens in the first place, analysts said.
China itself is a top player in drone operation and development, as the domestically developed Wing Loong and CH (Rainbow) series of drones are popular in the international arms market, and the Chinese military operates even more powerful drones such as the GJ-11, a flying wing-designed stealth armed reconnaissance drone that made its debut at the National Day military parade.