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PLA airborne forces use UAVs for forward resupply

The airborne corps of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has practised forward resupply and support of its forces using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

A 10 December report by the Science and Technology Daily , the official outlet of China's Ministry of Science and Technology, said a PLAAF Airborne Corps combined arms brigade used multiple UAV types that were embedded within its service support formation during a capture and hold exercise.

According to the report, the three methods of UAV support explored were: a single UAV providing ammunition, a large UAV that recovered a casualty, and a swarm of eight UAVs that was used to supply geographically separated units.

In the first scenario, assaulting troops were suppressed by enemy fire and requested additional ammunition to continue the fight. A single UAV with a carrying capacity of 100 kg was tasked to resupply the troops, which enabled them to successfully assault the enemy position.

The second scenario arose during the same assault. A large UAV was sent forward, flying close to the ground and searching for wounded personnel, said the report. It returned live information to the operator as it flew, and the medical crew located with the assault team loaded the casualty onto the UAV before it returned to the rear support area.

In the final scenario, the assault team defeated the enemy and assumed defensive positions in preparation for a counter-attack. A swarm of eight quadcopter UAVs was tasked to the co-ordinates of the defensive positions carrying additional supplies. The UAVs covered more than 10 km and independently co-ordinated their flight as well as the location of the teams, said the report.

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