China’s military displayed some of its most advanced weaponry and equipment during the country’s largest airshow concluded recently.
Air show China was held in the southern city of Zhuhai after a year-long delay as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The six-day event showcased China’s home-grown aviation and space technologies, amid growing strategic rivalry in the Asia Pacific.
The air show attracted nearly 40 countries and nearly 700 exhibitors online and offline exhibition sites signed more than $12.5 billion of the cooperation agreement, clinching a deal with various types of 159 aircraft as claimed by China.
More than 100 aircraft registered for display as China shows off its military might and its space ambitions, including a next-generation crewed rocket and heavy-lift launch vehicle.
The whole pedigree of land, sea and sky weapon systems were on display from stealth aircraft, missiles to rockets.
While the J-20, the air forces’ most advanced fighter jet was on full display, the J-16D military aircraft designed to counter enemy air-defence systems and equipped with signal jammers and missiles also made its debut.
A new generation of H-20 stealth bombers also debuted. The J-16D has two large electronic warfare pods on its wings, which will be used to disrupt and jam hostile electronic equipment, including radar and communications systems, the Global Times reported.
It also has a new avionics system and domestically-made engines.
The flying displays featured some products China wants to export, including the AG600, the world’s largest amphibious aircraft, designed for fire-fighting and sea-rescue roles.
The most representative of the strength was the “Zhuhai-made” AG600 “Kunlong” large amphibious aircraft. The AG600 on-site flight demonstration fully demonstrated the powerful fire-fighting ability.
A new series of drone products named Feihong, including an unmanned helicopter, loitering missiles and a new generation of stealth drones, will make their debut at the show.
The Wing Loong II, an armed drone similar to the American MQ-9 Reaper, has already been sold to customers including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan as China competes against Western rivals to increase military exports.
There were also more than 50 large-scale practical products and nearly 500 cutting-edge products were on physical display.
A series of radar, long-range UAVs, surveillance systems, emergency communication command vehicles and other major equipment were on display in the exhibition focusing on network security, digital services, defence electronics and other business areas of the latest innovation achievements.
China’s ships for the first time exhibited models of warships and underwater weapons from aircraft carriers to submarines.
An array of radar systems were on display including low-altitude surveillance radar which can simultaneously detect and track low-altitude cruise missiles, fighters, small and medium-sized and micro-small UAVs, with high detection power and multi-task ability, the position environment has strong adaptability, high tracking data rate, and a high degree of automation.
The New Mobile UHF anti-stealth air defence warning radar made its debut.
Since the first session was held in 1996, the China International Aerospace Expo (the Zhuhai Air Show) has gone through 25 years.
From being unnamed to being among the top five in the world, the Zhuhai Air Show has become a window to show the world the achievements of China’s aerospace and national defence modernization, as well as a platform for foreign cooperation and exchanges.
The AUKUS-Australia, United Kingdom and the United States recently announced a trilateral security pact for the region, including the provision of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, while the QUAD leaders met in person for the first time at the White House recently.
The QUAD includes the US, Australia, Japan and India and is seen as an effort to counter the rise of China, which has become increasingly assertive in the region, particularly in the disputed South China Sea and over Taiwan.
As China faces increasing threats from the West, it needs to improve its military-industrial, aviation and aerospace capabilities.
“Beijing is intent on not just pushing locally made military aircraft and aerospace technologies, but also its ability to address almost any military requirement out there,” said Kelvin Wong, a Singapore-based defence technology analyst at Janes.