Recently, a rare public video surfaced showing drones training alongside J-16 fighter jets, highlighting the rapid advancements in unmanned technology. This development in unmanned combat is profoundly changing the face of warfare. A group of young soldiers have joined the exploration of generating new combat capabilities, with Li Yang, a drone pilot born in the 1990s, being a notable figure among them.
Li Yang, the squadron leader of a particular drone unit of the Air Force’s aviation regiment, has been with the Air Force’s drone units since 2016. Known for his eagerness to face challenges head-on, Li distinguished himself in a particular drone testing exercise that involved approaching a critical altitude for the first time and coordinating with ground forces – a mission that was deemed more complex and dangerous than previous tasks. At a time when the team was indecisive, Li was the first to step forward and take on the mission, setting two records in the process. This test successfully validated a specific drone’s ability to strike in complex terrains, providing crucial data for future system-integrated combat operations.
Li Yang has since impressively completed more than 50 significant tasks in the Air Force’s drone unit. He’s been awarded the second-class merit once and third-class merit twice and was honorably selected as one of the top twenty representatives. He was also named “The Most Beautiful Revolutionary Soldier of the New Era” this year.
During one training in the Northwestern desert, to study the target range environment, Li often traveled on foot between the target range and the station. In just that year, he wore out three pairs of shoes. Committed to exploring new forces, Li has developed over ten combat strategies, expanding the combat modes of “Drone-” and “Drone+,” continually improving the capability to win battles.
Li explained: “‘Drone-‘ primarily reduces logistical support, while ‘Drone+’ mainly adds training and combat methods integrated into the system.”
As unmanned equipment becomes widely used, questions arise about the nature of future battlefields and how wars will be waged. Li believes that future warfare will be a clash of cognitions. The concepts and perceptions held by the people behind unmanned equipment and weapons will be the deciding factors in battlefield outcomes.
He stated, “The role that unmanned weapons can play far exceeds everyone’s imagination. I aim to be a true reformer, pushing for change and advancing technological levels.”