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China looks to bolster PLA's logistics as its unmanned systems market swells

According to Janes data, China's unmanned systems market is set to grow fivefold by 2031. (Janes Markets Forecast)

China's defence-based unmanned systems market will continue to grow at an unprecedented rate with Beijing focusing efforts to bolster innovation and expand the functions of unmanned systems to new areas.

In particular, China's national media has highlighted the increasing use of unmanned systems by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) for logistical operations. For example, earlier in April the state-run Global Times reported about an “unmanned intelligent equipment inspection event” organised by the PLA's Joint Logistics Support Force (JLSF).

According to Janes data, China's unmanned systems market is set to grow fivefold over the decade with the total value reaching USD19 billion by 2031.

The data shows that most of the unmanned systems will be developed locally, with foreign supplies of unmanned systems to China only including the ‘Puma aerostat' that is developed by the Russian company, RosAeroSystems.

Janes data reveals that one-third of all programmes related to unmanned systems will be focused on the development of fixed-wing unmanned aerial systems.

It also indicates China's intentions to use the unmanned systems for diverse functions such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); training; and transport.

The PLA-JLSF “has been actively exploring the application of unmanned intelligent technologies in fields like the transport of supplies, the transfer of the wounded, and emergency search-and-rescue”, Global Times said in an article on 11 April, quoting China Central Television (CCTV).

Global Times said the PLA-JLSF gathered “hundreds of arms companies to display their [the companies'] drone products” in a bid to identify appropriate equipment that could enhance the military's logistics capabilities.

Some of the demonstrations reported by Global Times

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