The flight path of the UAVs deployed by the PLA near Japan's south-western islands and Taiwan on 4 August. (Japan Ministry of Defense)
Japan's Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced that it spotted Chinese unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) near Taiwan and Japan's Nansei/Ryuku islands on 4 August.
According to the MoD, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) deployed one BZK-005 medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV, a TB-001 MALE UAV, and at least one other unmanned aircraft near the East China Sea area.
The BZK-005 and TB-001 UAV flew over the Miyako Strait, which is located between Japan's Miyako and Okinawa islands, more than once reaching the south of the Sakishima islands before reversing back on the same route, the MoD said.
The other unmanned aircraft was seen flying off the northeastern coast of Taiwan and continued to circle over the “high seas”, the MoD added.
The MoD said that the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) dispatched fighter jets from its Southwestern Air Command Support Flight to intercept the UAVs.
analysis of the BZK-005 UAV image shared by the Japanese MoD indicates that it is the modernised BZK-005E variant.
BZK-005, also known as the Changying (Long Eagle), is used for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) as well as electronic intelligence (ELINT) missions by all three services of the PLA.
Janes All the World's Aircraft: Unmanned
, BZK-005E, developed by Beihang UAS Technology Co Ltd, has a length of 10.05 m, a wingspan of 18 m, and a maximum payload capacity of 370 kg.
BZK-005E has a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 1,500 kg, a maximum cruising speed of 180 km/h, and a flight ceiling of 7,500 m.