Japanese Fighters Track Chinese Recon Drone

Japanese fighter jets track Chinese WL-10 drone

Japan’s military intercepted a Chinese WZ-10/WingLoong-10 supersonic reconnaissance drone over the East China Sea for the first time. Japanese fighter jets monitored the drone as it flew near air defenses and a key U.S. base in Okinawa Prefecture. “Japanese fighter jets track Chinese WL-10 drone”.

The stealthy WZ-10 appears designed primarily for reconnaissance and electronic warfare missions, with some strike capabilities. Its flight pattern took it north of Taiwan into airspace near multiple Patriot missile batteries and Kadena Air Base a vital U.S. air operations hub in the Pacific.

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Bilateral Training Underway

Kadena recently hosted bilateral drills between U.S. F-22 Raptors and Japanese F-15J fighters from May 13-17 to enhance interoperability, underscoring the base’s importance just as the Chinese drone was monitored nearby.

Mapping Capabilities

Leaked U.S. intelligence claims the smaller WZ-8 predecessor can conduct high-altitude reconnaissance using optical/infrared cameras, synthetic aperture radars and electronic support measures abilities the larger WZ-10 likely improves upon.

Strategic Signaling

The drone’s unprecedented flight near Japanese defenses and U.S. forces comes days after massive Chinese military exercises around Taiwan that simulated a blockade. Experts see it as strategic signaling from Beijing.

While its full capabilities remain unclear, the WZ-10’s intersect by Japanese fighters highlights growing concerns over China’s operational deployment of stealthy, supersonic drones for maritime intelligence gathering and potentially anti-access/area denial operations in regional flashpoints.

As tensions persist, the drone’s provocative flight path suggests Beijing is willing to directly probe the readiness of Japanese and U.S. air defense and base abilities to detect and track such aircraft – actions likely to intensify military vigilance.

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