According to a secret document from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, China is readying a supersonic spy drone unit.
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The Chinese military could soon deploy a high-altitude spy drone that travels at least three times the speed of sound, according to a leaked U.S. military assessment, a development that would dramatically strengthen China’s ability to conduct surveillance operations.
A secret document from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which has not previously been reported, shows the Chinese military is making technological advances that could help it target American warships around Taiwan and military bases in the region.
The document features satellite imagery dated Aug. 9 that shows two WZ-8 rocket-propelled reconnaissance drones at an air base in eastern China, about 350 miles inland from Shanghai. The drones are a cutting-edge surveillance system that could help China gather real-time mapping data to inform strategy or carry out missile strikes in a future conflict.
The assessment says the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had “almost certainly” established its first unmanned aerial vehicle unit at the base, which falls under the Eastern Theater Command, the branch of the Chinese military responsible for enforcing Beijing’s sovereignty claims over Taiwan.
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The Washington Post obtained the assessment of the WZ-8 program from a trove of images of classified files posted on Discord, a group chat service popular with gamers, allegedly by a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.
The Defense Department declined to comment. China’s Ministry of National Defense did not respond to a faxed request for comment.
Other documents in the trove detail a number of disclosures about Chinese spying and military modernization, including intelligence that revealed the existence of additional Chinese spy balloons and an assessment that Taiwan is ill-prepared to prevent early Chinese air superiority during an invasion.
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