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Monday, January 31, 2011

China set to bid on major US aerospace programmes

By Jon Grevatt
Non-Subscriber Extract

Chinese President Hu Jintao's high-profile visit to the US looks set to be followed by ambitious bids from China to supply platforms to meet two major US military aircraft procurement programmes.

State-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) is preparing proposals, in partnership with existing partner US aviation services group US Aerospace (USAE), to bid for the US Navy's VXX helicopter programme and the US Air Force T-X project to procure advanced jet trainers (AJT).

A lawyer who represents USAE in its dealings with AVIC, John C Kirkland – a partner at California law firm Luce Forward -–revealed to Jane's on 21 January that in both proposals AVIC would supply what would be regarded as civilian aircraft platforms that would be upgraded in the US with military avionics and, in the case of the T-X, a fire control system. Such manufacturing programmes would be facilitated under a USAE-AVIC strategic partnership that was formed in September 2010.


In the VXX programme, which was revived by Washington in February 2010 after being cancelled in 2009 because of cost overruns, the partnership are planning to bid with AVIC's 13-tonne AC-313 medium-lift transport helicopter, which is principally designed for civilian use. In the T-X programme, the bid would focus on AVIC's twin-engine L-15 Falcon AJT. In addition, USAE and AVIC are planning to market the Chinese-produced C919 jet airliner in the US as a business jet as well as a regional aircraft.

The VXX programme is worth about USD6 billion and, if USAE-AVIC bids for the contract, it is likely to be up against the AgustaWestland AW101 and the Sikorsky S-92 medium-lift helicopters. The USN is expected to procure more than 20 platforms to replace the existing Sikorsky VH-3 and VH-60 helicopters from around 2017.

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