China swooping in on military drone market

Story highlights

  • Sarah Kreps: China sought to increase its prominence in the drone export market
  • Less expensive Chinese versions could increase access to drones in unstable parts of the world, she says

Sarah Kreps is an associate professor of government and adjunct professor of law at Cornell University. She is the author of "Drones: What Everyone Needs to Know." The views expressed are her own.

(CNN)The United States has often been criticized for its use of armed drones. But in recent months, a new country has begun drawing attention. And while it has not used armed drones in combat, its increasing willingness to export the technology to other countries has serious implications for combat in the future.

Earlier this year, Nigeria confirmed using a Chinese-made CH-3 in its fight against Boko Haram, while Iraq appears to have used a CH-4 starting late 2015. In addition, Pakistan is now using a platform suspiciously resembling the CH-3, despite official reports that the drone is indigenously produced. (At the least, this probably would have required considerable collaboration from the Chinese and may have been assembled in Pakistan from Chinese-made components). Meanwhile, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are thought to have bought similar drones from China.
    Why has China sought to increase its prominence in the drone export market? The answer i