The People's Republic of China (PRC) is the world's largest producer of UAVs at this time and captures a vast portion of the commercial market, as well as the military one. While it is important to keep the commercial aspects in mind, this particular paper will focus on military UAVs, their development, deployments, and current and potential uses on the battlefield of today and tomorrow. The paper seeks to serve as a starting point to understand this growing field, and to give analysts a common baseline from which to work, and from which to judge growth, both rapidity and complexity, in the future.
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force's (PLAAF) desire to advance its strategic transformation through qualitative changes is evidenced by its development of what it calls the "four key training brands". These include: the Golden Helmet military competition; the Golden Dart military competition; the Blue Shield exercise, which includes the Golden Shield competition; and the Red Sword exercise. This report provides an overview of these annual training events, which are described by the PLAAF as its "four main actual-combat oriented training series."