China readies to flex latest indigenous defence technologies in Zhuhai

China continues to develop the Chengdu J-20 fifth generation fighter, which could be a real threat to the US and its allies. This example serving the 176th Regiment was seen at Zhuhai Airshow in November 2018.

State-owned and private Chinese defence and aerospace companies are set to showcase their latest platforms and technologies at the biennial China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, also known as Airshow China, that will be held from 28 September to 3 October.

The exhibition, which will take place in the southern city of Zhuhai, was postponed from its original scheduled date of November 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the postponement, however, few foreign visitors and media are expected to be able to attend the event due to the country’s strict quarantine policy.

Nevertheless, Airshow China organisers and participating companies are expected to impress the local audience and foreign dignitaries already in-country with their latest developments, with the leading state-owned aerospace company Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) stating that it will display around 150 exhibits. Approximately 40% of these will be shown for the first time, a company spokesperson told local media.

Social media has been abuzz with imagery captured by local observers, with one noteworthy arrival being Shenyang Aircraft Corporation’s (SAC’s) twin-engine J-16D electronic warfare fighter aircraft – analogous to the US Navy’s EA-18G ‘Growler’ platform – and making its debut at Airshow China.

Compared to the baseline J-16 multirole combat aircraft, the J-16D (‘D’ denoting the Chinese word for ‘dianzi’, or electronic) sports two large electronic warfare pods on each wingtip, which ware used to disrupt and jam hostile electronic equipment such as radar and communications systems. The type is also equipped with a new avionics suite and domestically produced engines.

Meanwhile, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) is also set to highlight its new twin-turbofan Rainbow-6 (Cai Hong-6, or CH-6) medium altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at the event. According to press materials leaked ahead of the event, the strike-capable UAV features four underwing hardpoints and can carry a maximum payload of 2,000 kg in strike mode although it can be reconfigured for extended surveillance missions with a lighter payload of 300 kg.

Elsewhere, land systems developers such as China North Industries Group (NORINCO) and Dongfeng Motor Group are also readying their impressive range of combat and support vehicles. For example, making its debut at the event will be a mobile short-range air defence (SHORAD) platform comprising the FB-10A surface-to-air missile system and the Dongfeng Mengshi (Warrior) tactical truck.

by Jr Ng