The US Department of Defense says in an annual report that the Chinese military is set to build nearly 42,000 land-based and sea-based drones.
It added that China is also developing long-range Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for intelligence gathering and bombing attacks.
“The acquisition and development of longer-range UAVs will increase China’s ability to conduct long-range reconnaissance and strike operations,” the Pentagon said in the report on Friday.
The report — entitled Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2015 — shows concerns from the US military about China’s growing military power.
“China is advancing its development and employment of UAVs,” the report said. “Some estimates indicate China plans to produce upwards of 41,800 land- and sea-based unmanned systems, worth about $10.5 billion, between 2014 and 2023.”
The report was handed to the US Congress for further assessment.
The US military also noted in the 2015 report that China has been adding UAVs into military exercises in recent years, including one drill in the East China Sea in 2013.
The Pentagon also expressed alarm over the scale of the Chinese army’s modernization campaign that seeks to depend on self-sufficiency rather than important defense equipment from the US or its allies.
The report concluded that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force “is pursuing modernization on a scale unprecedented in its history.”
In recent years, the Pentagon claimed that China has been building more advanced weapons that could target US interests in the future.
The US has expressed concern that the US might be losing its military superiority in areas such as fighter jets, missile systems and cyber warfare in the coming years.
Military spending worldwide amounts to $1.75 trillion and Washington is responsible for more than one third of all military spending.