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Pakistan wants to buy Chinese stealth aircraft: Minister

By on Monday, November 24th, 2014

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has expressed interest in procuring fourth generation stealth fighter aircraft FC-31 from China.

Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanveer Hussain told Dawn.com on Friday the matter was being discussed with Chinese authorities.

It is for the first time that a senior government functionary has confirmed talks with China over purchase of the longer-range stealth aircraft — an issue that has been a subject of speculation in defence circles since the 10th edition of the Zhuhai Air Show (China) held earlier this month, when the aircraft was unveiled.

The Jane’s Defence Weekly had quoted an unnamed Pakistani official as saying that the PAF was holding talks with China for the purchase of 30 to 40 of the Shenyang FC-31 fighter planes and that discussions had gone beyond initial inquiries.

The FC-31 is being developed by China primarily for the export market. Chinese officials claim that several countries have expressed interest in the aircraft believed to be comparable to US F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

A prototype of the aircraft, designated as J-31, has been flown by the Chinese aircraft research and development firm Shenyang Aviation Company for a couple of years now.

What particularly interests the PAF is that FC-31 prototype (J-31) and JF-17 use the same Russian Klimov RD-93 engines.

Pakistan is increasingly relying on China as a reliable source for its defence procurements.

Mr Hussain said that Pakistan was also interested in Chinese attack helicopter Z-10.

China and Pakistan had earlier co-produced JF-17 Thunder. Pakistan has been eagerly trying to market this fighter aircraft.

“We have nearly confirmed orders from seven countries for JF-17,” Mr Hussain said.

Pakistan, which is at present producing Block-2 of JF-17 at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra, is eying orders from countries in the Middle East and Africa.

“The PAF has a requirement of 250 aircraft, but now we have decided that we’ll sell some of the JF-17 Block-2 to international buyers besides fulfilling our local demand,” the minister said.

The minister sounded upbeat about the upcoming four-day defence exhibition IDEAS 2014 beginning in Karachi on Dec 1.

Some 175 companies, including 34 local firms, are participating in the international event this year.

Mr Hussain said a few MoUs and agreements on joint ventures were expected to be signed during the exhibition, but no orders were expected at the event.

“The basic spirit behind the exhibition is to increase interaction with defence industry (officials) of other countries and provide exposure to our own industry,” he said.

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Chinese Weapons Winning Battle for Export Market

Chinese-made armaments have become increasingly popular in the international market, according to an industry insider. “We have observed several successive years of good revenue from the export of our products, and the sales figures keep rising year-on-year,” Liu Song, deputy general manager of research and development at China North Industries Corp, popularly abbreviated as Norinco, told China Daily at the 10th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition. The show, which closed on Sunday, was held in Zhuhai, Guangdong province.

As the export wing of China North Industries Group Corp, the country’s biggest developer and maker of land armaments, Liu’s company brought to the exhibition 44 weapons in six categories, including armored vehicles, anti-tank missiles and multiple rocket launchers.

“Our exhibits cover almost all weapons an army would probably need,” Liu said. “We came here with two goals: showing the achievement of technological innovation made by China’s ground weapon industry, and making more people know our products.”

Having retained traditional clients in South Asia and Middle East regions, Norinco has been successful in winning new buyers in Africa and South America, according to Liu. “The demand for our products from emerging markets continues to expand, and now a lot of foreign armies are coming to us,” Liu said. Here fused to reveal details such as buyers’ identities and sales volume, citing the company’s confidentiality policy.

Among the exhibits Norinco displayed at the show, the VT-4 main battle tank, was arguably the biggest star.

Formerly designated as MBT-3000, the tank features superb mobility and strong firepower as well as a cutting-edge data exchange network, Liu said.

According to Western military publications, the VT-4 is equipped with an electronic-controlled diesel engine with 1,200 horsepower, giving the tank a cruise speed of 68 kilo-meters per hour. Its main gun is a 125-mm smoothbore that can fire various shells, including a kinetic energy penetrator and high explosive anti-tank warhead. In addition, it can also fire anti-tank missiles with a maximum range of 5,000meters.

“It has an advanced fire-control system, a new-type active protection system and a state-of-the-art fully automatic transmission device,” he said. “In addition, the inter-unit network connects commanders of tanks and armored vehicles under a combat group, enabling them to share battlefield data in real time.”

The VT-4 can compete with any first-class tank used by Western militaries such as the United States’ M1A2 Abrams and Germany’s Leopard 2A6, Liu said, adding that Russia’s T-90 is no match for the Chinese tank in terms of technology.

Other weapons Norinco highlighted at the show included the PLZ-52, a new-generation, 155 mm self-propelled howitzer whose predecessor sold well in the Middle East, and the HJ-12 anti-tank missile, which has fire-and-forget capability and can even hit a helicopter flying at slow speed.

“Many of our products were specifically designed for the overseas market. Their capabilities are as good as those of Western weapons, but the prices are much more competitive,” Liu said.

Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Bloomberg: “The Chinese systems are simply cheaper, they are reliable and they are tailored to the conditions of developing countries. As the systems get more sophisticated, they will under-cut Europe and the US and compete with Russia.”

During a promotion in August in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, diplomats, military officials and defense contractors from 44 countries were given a field performance by Norinco’s VT-4 tanks and combat vehicles.

“Several countries have expressed interest in the VT-4 after their officials saw the tank display, and we are negotiating with them on this matter,” Liu said.

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Russian Engine to Power Chinese J-31 5th Generation Fighter

A Russian-made RD-93 engine will power the Chinese J-31 fifth generation fighter, Rosoboronexport official told RIA Novosti Monday.

“J-31 with the Russian engine RD-93 is considered to be an export program, able to compete with the American F-35 fifth generation aircraft on the regional markets,” Rosoboronexport’s Air Force Equipment Export Department Head Sergey Kornev told RIA Novosti in an interview.

“The program is ambitious, but very real, especially considering the high cost of F-35 and some problems with its development,” Kornev added.

Sergey Kornev, who is heading the Russian delegation at China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, told RIA Novosti that two fifth generation fighters are being developed in China, the J-20 and J-31, which demonstrates the high potential of Chinese science and aviation industry.

The J-31 fifth generation fighter flew a maiden flight in October 2012 and there is currently only one prototype available. The twin-engine jet bears some resemblance with the Russian T-50 or PAK FA fifth-generation fighter.

China has also been developing its stealth J-20 fighter, which first took off in 2011, and is expected to be operational by 2017 or later.

Russian RD-93 engines are a variant of the RD-33 engines, initially developed to power MiG-29 fighters. The RD-93 was developed by Russia’s Klimov design bureau specifically for the FC-1 fighter, known in Pakistan as the JF-17 Thunder.

The world’s only fifth generation fighter in service is the US F-22 Raptor, while F-35, Russian T-50 and Chinese J-20 and J-31 are at various stages of development.

Kornev also mentioned about the problem of China’s making copycat copies of Russian weapons, but pointed out that there is a resolution to that.

“The problem [of China violating copyright of Russian weapons] exists, but it is solvable, and both sides are seeking the settlement of controversial situations,” Rosoboronexport’s Air Force Equipment Export Department Head Sergei Kornev said prior to the Airshow China 2014 exhibition, which will be held in southern China’s city of Zhuhai on November 11-16.

He cited a 2008 deal on intellectual property protection in military-technical cooperation between the two nations as a good example of Russia-China cooperation on the issue.

“We continue joint activities on elaboration of working mechanisms of exposing violations. The problem is concealed in the inconsistence of local legislations as well as international acts,” Kornev added.

The defense official, however, underscored that military-technical cooperation between Russia and China has no hurdles which could not be cleared.

In 1992, China bought Russia’s Su-27 fighter jets. Fifteen years later, Beijing unveiled J-11B aircraft which Moscow labeled as a copycat version of Su-27.

Russia has also accused China of producing cloned versions of Su-33 fighter jet, S-300 air defense system, the Smerch multiple rocket launcher and the Msta self-propelled howitzer in violation of intellectual property agreements.

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Chinese media warn US over warplane interception

China’s state-run media warned Washington on Monday that Beijing could treat its surveillance flights as an “act of hostility”, after accusations a Chinese fighter jet flew dangerously close to a US military aircraft.

US Rear Admiral John Kirby said Friday the armed Chinese warplane came close to the American P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft on three occasions, at times less than 30 feet (nine meters) away, in what he called a “very dangerous” intercept.

China’s defence ministry spokesman Yang Yujun called the allegations “totally groundless” in a statement cited by the official news agency Xinhua.

The incident took place 220 kilometres (135 miles) off China’s Hainan island, over an area the US insists is international waters but Beijing regards as part of its territory.

The incident has echoes of a major incident in April 2001, when a Chinese fighter jet collided with a US Navy EP-3 spy plane around 110 kilometres off Hainan.

The Global Times — which is owned by the Communist Party’s mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, and often takes a nationalist tone — lashed out in an editorial at US surveillance “in the coastal waters and airspace of China”.

“Such reconnaissance is posing a threat to China’s core security interests, which could be treated as an act of hostility,” it said.

“It would be a life and death fight between China and the US if the collisions in the South China Sea became confrontations concerning both sides’ core interests,” it warned.

The episode comes as Beijing builds up its military might and naval reach, while Washington is engaged in a foreign policy “pivot” to Asia.

The official China Daily newspaper accused the US of undermining mutual trust, saying that Washington’s concerns over China’s rise were a “psychological need to create an enemy to make up for its sense of loss after the end of the Cold War”.

US naval and airborne reconnaissance missions “do nothing to convince the Chinese authorities and the Chinese people that the US is sincere in claiming it wants to build mutual trust with China,” the paper said in an editorial.

Washington and Beijing have long disagreed over aviation and maritime rights in the strategic South China Sea, the site of key shipping routes, which Beijing claims almost in its entirety.

In the 2001 collision, a Chinese pilot was killed and the American aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing on Hainan.

Chinese authorities initially detained its 24-member crew for more than a week until both governments worked out a face-saving deal for their release.

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Joint Drills Boost Chinese Navy

By on Monday, August 4th, 2014

The Chinese navy has been striving to hone its combat capability through joint drills and rigorous training since the start of the year.

During Joint Sea 2014, conducted in late May in the East China Sea, the Chinese and Russian navies strengthened their cooperation and capabilities in maritime operations.

During the weeklong exercise, 14 ships, two submarines and nine fixed-wing aircraft from the two navies practiced tactical maneuvers including air defense, an anti-ship attack, anti-submarine combat and rescuing hijacked vessels.

This exercise was the third of its kind and followed joint drills off the coast of Russia’s Far East in July 2013 and the Yellow Sea in April 2012.

Compared with the previous two exercises, Vice-Admiral Tian Zhong, deputy commander of the People’s Liberation Army navy, said this year’s drill featured a more realistic combat environment and higher integration in communication.

In July, the Chinese navy sent a fleet to take part in the US-led Pacific Rim joint exercises off Hawaii. The fleet of four ships, including the missile destroyer Haikou and missile frigate Yueyang, is the second largest in the drill, following that of the US Navy.

The Chinese vessels have taken part in a series of events during the world’s largest international maritime exercise, including gun-firing, maritime security operations, surface warship maneuvers and humanitarian rescue and disaster relief.

The PLA navy has also organized several major patrol and training operations over the past seven months, sending ships and submarines to the South China Sea, western Pacific Ocean and eastern Indian Ocean to test its combat capabilities.

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Chinese remote sensing drone sets 30-hour flying record

By on Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

A new Chinese unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) set a new record for the country’s remote sensing drones by flying for more than 30 hours consecutively, the UAV’s developer, the Chinese Academy of Surveying and Mapping (CASM), announced on Wednesday.

The previous record time was 16 hours. Coupled with China’s Beidou Navigation Satellite System, the UAV system can carry out rapid mapping without ground control points.

Made of ultra-light carbon fiber materials, the drone is powered by a four-stroke air-cooled engine, and a V-shaped tail spoiler can reduce the wind drag.

CASM said that the newly developed system will make it possible for several drones to fly within one airspace simultaneously, thanks to breakthroughs in telecommunications technologies.

CASM is affiliated with China’s National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation.

It said drones have played an important role in rescue and reconstruction work in quake-stricken areas such as Wenchuan and Lushan, both in Sichuan Province.

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Chinese, Indian militaries vow cooperation: Xinhua

Top Chinese and Indian military officials vowed to boost cooperation between the Asian giants during a rare visit by the head of India’s army, state media reported.

General Bikram Singh, the first Indian army chief to visit China since 2005, held talks Thursday with Fan Changlong, the vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Relations between the rising powers are generally positive but have suffered from lingering distrust over an unresolved border dispute and a brief war a half century ago.

The frontier issue flared up again in April last year with New Delhi accusing Chinese troops of intruding nearly 20 kilometres (12 miles) into Indian-claimed territory, triggering a three-week standoff that was resolved when forces from both sides pulled back.

“Our common interests far outweigh our differences,” Fan told Singh. “Both countries have sufficient wisdom and capability to deal with historical problems.”

Singh stressed that the two countries were not rivals, the report said, and military communication and interaction were important to make sure the border areas were peaceful.

Xinhua said that Singh’s visit, following India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking office in May, “is regarded as a positive signal from India to interact with China’s political and military leaders”.

China’s willingness to stress cooperation with India over their dispute contrasts with the harder line Beijing has taken in maritime disputes in the South China Sea with the Philippines and Vietnam and the East China Sea with Japan.

China and India are both members of the BRICS grouping, along with Brazil, Russia and South Africa, and Singh’s four-day visit follows one last week by Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari.

Singh also met Fang Fenghui, chief of general staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, Xinhua said.

Fang said the two sides should expand cooperation in areas including joint exercises, peacekeeping and anti-terrorism, the report said.

“Both sides should strengthen border control to prevent disruptions to the broader military-to-military relationship and bilateral ties,” Fang said.

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