Monday, October 5, 2009

China Prepares for Zhuhai Air Show

Defense News


China Prepares for Zhuhai Air Show

By Wendell Minnick

Taipei - China is preparing for its 7th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition for Nov. 4-9 in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, in southern China.

The government-sponsored show features exhibitors from 35 countries, including: 20 French companies - the Safran Group, Snecma and Thales; 40 Russian companies - Irkut, Rosoboronexport and Sukhoi Aviation; three from the United Kingdom - Rolls Royce; five Ukrainian companies - Antonov; and 24 U.S. companies - Boeing, GE Aviation, Rockwell Collins, Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky and United Technologies.

More than 100 Chinese defense and aerospace companies, including government organizations, are scheduled to exhibit. The exhibition center has been renovated, which consisted of "rebuilding and decorations, including renovating all three exhibition halls, the press center, chalets and the comprehensive village," said a press release.

Show officials are expecting more than 200,000 public visitors, compared with 180,000 in 2006. The increase is due to the planned attendance of three Chinese astronauts, along with one or more of the re-entry vehicles.

China conducted its first space walk in September. It was the third manned space mission in five years. China has a stated goal of putting a space station in orbit and conducting a manned mission to the moon by 2020.

This year, China is expected to finally display the J-10 "Vigorous Dragon" fighter. Show officials promised in 2006 to display the aircraft, but the fighter never appeared. With a delta-canard configuration, the J-10 is a single-engine, multirole fighter built by the Chengdu Aircraft Corp.

It has been the subject of much speculation since its first test flight in 1998. The Chinese media finally acknowledged its existence in 2006, despite years of reporting in the international press. Based on the Israeli-designed Lavi fighter, it is considered a competitor to Lockheed Martin's F-16 on the international arms market and a model for its stealth fighter program.

Reportedly, Chengdu is working on a J-13 stealth fighter based on the J-10, and the Shenyang Aircraft Corp. is working on the J-12 stealth fighter based on a different design.

Show officials would give no details on what military aircraft would be on display, but the 2006 show included 52 commercial and military aircraft, including the Hongdu L-15 Advanced Trainer, along with 10 different UAVs, including the Tianyi (Sky Wing) and Soar Dragon UAVs.

There were also new conceptual models on display, including the stealthy Anjian (Dark Sword) unmanned combat aerial vehicle. This year, helicopter deals are expected in both the commercial and military market.

"China has become the fastest-growing market in the world" for helicopters, said a show press release, with 1,600 new helicopters to be procured by China by 2010. "Currently, there are only 400 helicopters in use in China's public service, such as police, rescue and fire control, far from being enough," said a press release.

The recent earthquake in Sichuan Province demonstrated a strong need for more helicopters.