China Now Has A Flying Propaganda Machine
The Chinese military has a new warplane with an unusual purpose: to beam propaganda and disinformation into hostile territory.
In that way, the new, four-engine Y-8GX7 psychological operations plane—also known by its Chinese name, Gaoxin-7—is analogous to the U.S. Air Force’s EC-130J, which it says“conducts military information support operations and civil affairs broadcasts in F.M. radio, television and military communications bands.”
A flying radio outpost might seem rather retro, even quaint, in the internet era. But in many of the world’s worst conflict zones, internet access is limited—and people still get much of their information from radio and television.
EC-130s—which has its own nickname, “Commando Solo”—and similar U.S. aircraft like it have broadcast propaganda in nearly all U.S. conflicts since the Vietnam War. Perhaps most famously, EC-130s flew over Libya during the 2011 international intervention in that country, in one case advising Libyan navy sailors to stop resisting and remain in port.
“If you attempt to leave port, you will be attacked and destroyed immediately,” the EC-130J crew warned via radio in English, French, and Arabic. A Dutch ham radio operator overheard and recorded the broadcast.
According to the Air Force, the EC-130Js deployed to the Middle East in 2015. While the flying branch didn’t specify exactly where the psyops planes went or why, it’s likely they supported the U.S.-led war on ISIS, perhaps bombarding militant fighters with warnings similar to those the EC-130J crews broadcast over Libya five years ago.[…]