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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

China's Hopes for first ever military export to West

By Fu Wen
A possible deal to export helicopters to a US military aircraft purchase program is a sign of China's growing ability to produce aircraft according to international standards, experts said.
The UK-based Jane's Defence Weekly reported Monday that the State-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) is preparing proposals, in collaboration with existing partner US Aero-space (USAE), to bid for the US Navy's VXX helicopter program and the US Air Force T-X project to procure advanced jet trainers (AJT).

The VXX program is worth about $6 billion, the report said.
The partnership is planning to bid AVIC's 13-tonne AC-313 medium-lift transport helicopter, which is principally designed for civilian use. In the T-X program, the bid would focus on AVIC's twin-engine L-15 Falcon AJT, the report said.
USAE and AVIC are planning to market the Chinese-produced C919 jet airliner in the US as a business jet and a regional aircraft, the magazine reported.

AVIC has refused to comment on the report.
"The authenticity of the bid still needs more confirmation, but if the news is true, it will be the first time that China has the chance to export nearly completed military aircraft to a Western country," Chen Hu, editor-in-chief of the Beijing-based World Military Affairs magazine, told the Global Times Thursday.
The Jane's Defence Weekly report quoted John C. Kirkland, a lawyer who represents USAE in its dealings with AVIC, as saying that AVIC would supply what would be regarded as civilian aircraft platforms that would be upgraded in the US with military avionics and a fire control system.
Although Chen is not very optimistic about AVIC winning the bid, he says that the fact they have the chance to promote themselves on the world stage is a sign that Chinese military industrial enterprises have made great strides in technology and production capacity.

"AVIC will benefit from the cooperation if they win the bid, since the company has to update its original technologies to produce helicopters that meet US civil aviation technology standards," Chen added.
China's arms sales to neighboring Asian countries have drawn attention from Western countries in recent years.
The Moscow-based Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade, a non-governmental research enterprise, reported Monday that China exported 90 fighter aircrafts from 2000 to 2009.
Shanghai-based news portal website quoted a Russian military website as saying that Chinese military industrial enterprises have been actively exploring markets in Southeast Asian countries.
"Chinese military products are relatively cheap and reliable, which are key reasons why weapons made in China are so popular in many developing countries," said Chen.
"As far as I know, the Pakistani Air Force is equipped with some of the FC-1 fighter aircrafts jointly produced by China," Chen added.

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