China’s high-end military technology touted at biggest air show

  • Space exploration plans, including commercial aircraft in focus
  • “Loyal Wingman” drone is developed to protect fighter jets
  • Trade tensions between the US and China are putting civil industry under pressure

ZHUHAI, China, Sept. 30 (Reuters) – China unveiled a flamboyant vision of once-secret high-end military technology at its largest air show this week, while radiating its growing ambitions in space exploration and self-sufficiency in commercial aircraft.

Travel restrictions related to the pandemic meant the China Airshow in the southern city of Zhuhai was a largely domestic affair, but foreign observers closely watched developments from afar as China built its military strength.

“Key platforms serving the PLAAF – previously operated in strict secrecy – that were shown to the public for the first time have attracted considerable attention from international audiences,” said Kelvin Wong, a Singapore-based defense editor at Janes.

He pointed out the WZ-7 Xianglong, a long-range high-altitude reconnaissance drone similar to that of the US-made Northrop Grumman. resembles (NIGHT) RQ-4 Global Hawk, but with inferior engines. The WZ-7 was sighted from air bases near the Sino-India border, North Korean border and the South China Sea, Wong said.

China has worked hard to improve the performance of its homemade engines, which are lagging behind Western technology. At the fair, she flew her J-20 fighter jets with Chinese instead of Russian engines for the first time.

Tests for two types of inland engines for its Y-20 transport aircraft are also ongoing, the aircraft’s chief designer said the global time On Wednesday.

The J-16D electronic fighter aircraft, the closest thing to the US-made EA-18G Growler, was on display on the ground and demonstrated a capability that experts say could undermine Taiwan’s air defenses in the event of a conflict. Continue reading

Wong said at least three types of jammers were hung on the plane, suggesting that each of them was designed to jam different parts of the electronic spectrum.

China also announced that it is pursuing a “loyal wingman” drone to protect more expensive crewed fighter jets, in line with competing projects in the US, UK, Australia, India and Russia. Continue reading

The developer did not say whether this drone, the Feihong FH-97 concept, would be exported, but the presentation was attended by many foreign observers.


China also announced that it is expected to launch its next generation of heavy-lift rockets in 2028, powerful enough to send a manned spacecraft to the moon – two years earlier than previously expected. Continue reading

In the case of commercial aircraft, China is stepping up its efforts to become more self-sufficient in key technologies in view of the trade tensions with the USA.

Aero Engine Corp of China showed a full-size rotating model of the CJ1000 engine under development for the C919 narrowbody aircraft, which could eventually replace CFM International’s imported LEAP-1C engines.

Thanks to strict US export rules, the C919 had a harder time achieving the certification and production targets, Reuters reported on Monday, citing sources familiar with the situation. Continue reading

“With an unrivaled domestic market and increasing involvement of private investment, it is only a matter of time for China to resolve external technology blockades,” said Wang Yanan, editor-in-chief of Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine the global time in response to the Reuters story.

It is also becoming increasingly difficult for western aircraft manufacturers to obtain certifications for new models that would compete with aircraft from China.

The Airbus (AIR.PA) A220, Embraer (EMBR3.SA) The E-Jet E2 series and ATR 42-600 turboprop have not yet been approved by the Chinese Aviation Authority, although they have been in service elsewhere for years, which hinders the chances of local sales.

Boeing (PROHIBITION), however, said on the show it remains hopeful that by the end of the year the 737 MAX would be cleared to return to China after being banned for more than two years. Continue reading

Reporting by David Kirton; additional reporting from Stella Qiu; additional reporting and writing from Jamie Freed in Sydney. Editing by Gerry Doyle

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