The United States is developing a new generation of sea-based drones that could be used on aircraft carriers, which experts say would be deployed in Asia.
Vice Admiral Scott Van Buskirk, commander of the US 7th Fleet, which covers most of the Pacific and Indian oceans, told AP on Monday that the new generation of drones would play an integral role in future US operations in Asia.
He said the drones could also be used to counter China's aircraft carrier-killer missile.
China is not close to building a military as strong as that of the US, but its advancements in aerial and naval power could test the US dominance in the Pacific and potentially Washington's ability to protect its allies such as Japan and South Korea.
“There is a growing Chinese military capability, one that frankly I believe, exceeds the need, the defensive needs of China against any conceivable threat,” US military analyst Daniel Goure told a Press TV correspondent.
Experts say the new drones can be used on any of the 11 US carriers worldwide.
Land-based drones are widely used in the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but sea-based versions will take several more years to develop.
“You can send them to a very high-risk environment with a lower cost in terms of human life or risk to pilots and crews,” Goure said.
Sea-based drones would have a combat radius of over 2,700 kilometers (1,677 miles) and would remain airborne for 50 to 100 hours.
Drones are used for deadly airstrikes in Pakistan on an almost daily basis.
Earlier on Monday, unauthorized US drone attacks killed at least eleven people in Pakistan's northwestern tribal region.
Media reports say eight people were killed after a US drone fired two missiles at targets in the Miranshah area of North Waziristan.
Washington claims the strikes target militants. However, the attacks, conducted by the CIA in coordination with the Pentagon, have killed hundreds of civilians in Pakistan since 2008.