China Displays Booming Industry at Show
By WENDELL MINNICK
ZHUHAI, China — China’s aviation and defense industry pulled out the stops for the eighth edition of the Zhuhai air show, which is becoming a leading international aviation and defense exhibition.
Held Nov. 16-21 in China’s southeastern province of Guangdong, the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition broke its own attendance records, with displays from more than 600 domestic and foreign exhibitors.
Underscoring the show’s rising importance to Beijing, Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang officially opened the show and toured exhibition halls.
Chinese companies and government institutions took the lion’s share of booths with 180. Chinese companies displayed a variety of anti-ship cruise missiles, multilaunch rocket systems and more than 25 UAVs.
China’s biggest aerospace and defense aviation company, China Aviation Industry Corp. (AVIC), accounted for more than 70 of the stands, showing new bombs, missiles, electronic warfare systems, UAVs, fighter aircraft and commercial aviation products.
Numerous Chinese booths featured artists’ renderings of sophisticated attacks on U.S. aircraft carriers. One video on display showed a Chinese UAV finding an aircraft carrier task force and relaying targeting information for a Chinese assault by anti-ship cruise missiles.
Still, the show was dominated by commercial aviation, and U.S. and European companies pushing into China’s civil market appeared undaunted by the suggestions that China’s defense aviation industry considers the United States the primary target of its products.
Forty-two U.S. companies had booths at the show, including Boeing, Honeywell Aerospace, Kallman, Moog, Pratt & Whitney, Rockwell Collins, Sikorsky Aircraft and United Technologies. GE Aviation had both a booth and a chalet. None displayed military equipment, aiming their pitches instead at China’s skyrocketing civil aviation market.
The commercial airline and cargo aircraft market is projected to be around $500 billion in the next two decades. China is buying U.S. and European airliners but also developing domestic airliners.
The ARJ-21, China’s newest airliner, was on exhibit. A full-scale mockup of the C919 airliner was on display, and sources indicate the plane will make its first flight in 2014.
French companies are pushing hard into the aviation market. Airbus showcased its A380 jumbo airliner and the new A330-200F freighter. Safran and AVIC signed a general strategic partnership agreement that will expand the scope of collaboration between the two groups, said a Safran press release. Turbomeca, under Safran, is developing an engine, the WZ16, with China’s Dongan to power both commercial and military helicopter variants of the Avicopter Z-15.
Engine development is still a serious challenge for China’s aviation industry. It continues to procure Russian and Ukrainian engines for many of its helicopters and fighter jets, including the L-15 Lead-In Fighter Trainer and the J-10, J-11 and JF-17/FC-1.
China’s “aviation industrial barons are pursuing an ambitious strategy to build an internationally competitive, innovative and comprehensive aviation design and manufacturing base,” said Tai Ming Cheung, a China defense industry specialist at the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, University of California.
He said China’s aviation industry has experienced a renaissance, and is “reaping record profits” from new orders, developing advanced aircraft, and forging business and technology ties with international aviation companies.
About 70 aircraft from 35 countries were on display. The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) August 1st Aerobatics Team conducted flight demonstrations of the new J-10 fighter, and there were static displays of the JH-7A fighterbomber, J-8F fighter, H-6 mediumrange bomber, KJ-200 “balance beam” airborne early warning aircraft, and Z-9WA and Z-8KA helicopters.
The Pakistan Air Force flew the JF-17/FC-1 fighter and K-8 trainer in demonstration flights. Both aircraft were jointly developed by China and Pakistan. The JF-17 on static display was outfitted with Chinese weapons, including the SD-10 medium-range air-to-air missile, the GB1 laser-guided bomb, the LS-6 glide bomb and the C802A anti-ship cruise missile.
Among other events, AVIC and Hongdu Aviation unveiled their L-15 Lead-In Flight Trainer for the export market. The L-15 conducted a demonstration flight, and AVIC officials gave a rare press conference.
The day before the show opened, the PLAAF held the Military Flight Training Conference 2010, which emphasized future pilot training trends. Representatives from 20 countries attended, including AVIC President Lin Zuoming and Lt. Gen. He Weirong, the PLAAF’s deputy commander.