China flags ambitions at arms fair

Nov 16 2012, 18:53 IST
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SummaryChina is flexing its muscles as an arms exporter with a growing array of indigenous weaponry.

done smaller deals with African countries. There is also interest from Latin America.

Western analysts say China has a reputation for selling basic but reliable equipment with relatively few questions asked about its use, a key selling point.

But the range of products on display in Zhuhai is both increasing and gradually moving up in value, while remaining a decade or two behind the most advanced U.S. equipment.

COPYCAT APPROACH

For the first time at Zhuhai, China showed an export version of a long-range surface-to-air missile, the truck-mounted FD-2000, and a Predator-style UAV called the Wing Loong.

There was also a focus on systems that build relationships such as the L-15 trainer, which won its first export deal to an unidentified country at the show.

Admittedly, China's other reputation for copying what it cannot make is unlikely to disappear any time soon.

A parlour game among delegates is to tick off the similarities between Chinese systems and foreign platforms.

When you come and see these aircraft you relate them to what you have seen before. The K-8 is a Hawk, the J-10 a Eurofighter, the L-15 an Aermacchi M-346, said an officer with an African air force delegation, asking not to be identified.

That is why some people don't want to send their planes here. You come back in five years and it's called a J-something.

Organisers said a record 650 companies from 38 countries showed up to present exhibits at the ninth Zhuhai show.

A few yards and a Chinese wall separate the military part of the show and Western aerospace suppliers striking deals with China's fledgling civil aerospace industry.

This week's flying displays included a surprise debut of the Z-10 months after U.S. company United Technologies admitted selling software that helped Beijing develop its first modern military attack helicopter.

China's aviation industry is turning out reasonably decent products, said Pike in a telephone interview. They are not there yet and they have a long way to go. But they are open for business

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