The Chinese authorities have announced the extension of their protected air zone, which has been challenged by Japan when it comes to the Senkaku islands. Henceforth, China demands that the planes flying over its territory should identify themselves and provide their flight plan within 100 miles (185km) of its coast.
However, this decision would appear to be a guise for deploying a defense system intended to thwart US drone surveillance. According to Aerospace Electronic Warfare, a specialized Chinese journal, the Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle and the stealth UAV RQ-170 are vulnerable to :
the electronic jamming of transported surveillance equipment, control signals to and from planes or satellites, and the global positioning system (GPS);
the camouflage of installations;
smoke screens which obstruct their view;
interceptions while flying at medium altitude exposing them to radar detection;
the fighter plane which can spot them and destroy them or have them destroyed;
attack platforms and ambushes.
The Pentagon fears that China may have acquired from Iran the technology to take over its drones in flight and to force them to land. In December 2011, the Islamic Republic had managed to capture a perfectly intact RQ-170 in perfect condition and to make use of its advanced technology.
The US Defense Department, which has heavily invested in its drone fleet, does not seem to have an alternative espionage system to monitor Iran and China.