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Airshow China 2016 01/30/2017


 Airshow China 2016


In march 2013, Vladimir Putin expected « Chinese wind in russian sails » ...

If you (also) practice french, read what it takes to make such rare pictures :


Airshow China 2016 was held from Nov. 1st to 6th. It was the 11th event of the kind, taking place at Zhuhai airport in south Guangdong district. The airfield is a few kms. north of Macao, but as always, it was my pleasure to join the event through Zhuhai Harbour, having sailed straight from Hong Kong international airport with the daily shuttle boat, before I spent a full week at the show.

Compared to my last trip at Airshow China, four years ago, I found that the site was extensively refurbished and extended with huge new halls fully built for the event. 151 airplanes were exhibited, and 40 billion dollars of contracts were recorded during the full airshow. 56 indigenous COMAC airliner and 40 ARJ21-700 jets were ordered. 700 exhibitors from 42 countries took part, and no less than 400.000 visitors were recorded.Though most signed contracts dealt with civil matters, China Airshow 2016 was the unique event to witness the state of art of military programs in China. Chinese PLA forces deployed several radars at the show, such as a counter stealth system, and also most flying products such as Rainbow CH5 armed drone, or AVIC Cloud Shadow. As promised it was the « 20 » generation items display, with two Chengdu J-20 5th generation jets being briefly flown together, but on inauguration day only. Amazingly nearly all foreign « pro » photographers missed the J-20s, most of us having not attended from the fist day. Strangely enough those jets were not displayed on other days. J-31 stealth jet did not make it this year, but turned out to appear in a fully changed aerodynamics configuration two months later on, under the FC-31 designation. So at last, it explains why the already outdated J-31 was not air displayed in the show this year. Last « 20 » on the highlitghts was the Y-20, a new military cargo with shapes that are pretty much looking those of the C-17. Undoubtedly, this Y-20 exhibition was representative of Chinese government's will to equip the PLAAF with hundreds of types of those cargos, in order to disput western powers abilities to project forces on other continents.


Every night on Chinese news and TV channels, in Zhuhai, Reds were on the screens

So we will probably have to wait until next Airshow China 2018 to see those 5th Gen. stealth aircraft a bit more in-depth in a flying display program. But Chengdu J-10s did make it, with six of them having been flown daily at the event, by « BaYi » national team. Surprisingly fumes were changed this year, purple tints having been traded with white, blue, and yellow trails. Really sad it was to be last Airshow China for Captain Yu Xu who died a week after the show during a very bad ejection from her J-10, on nov. 12th. Menwhile a J-10 B Flying Dragon bearing a stealthy air intake was also on static display, as well as the FTC-2000 which flew on several days. Last but not least, the JF-17 Thunder made it daily with a solo flying display by Pakistan Air Force. Pilot pulled it tightly at 90° on take off with afterburner, possibly to prove his fighter had more power to climb than what was commonly reported. JF-17 Thunder is on its way to be selected by Myanmar, as three other JF-17s will be delivered to Nigeria.



Y-20 exhibition was representative of Chinese government's will to equip the PLAAF with hundreds of types of those cargos, in order to disput western powers abilities to project forces on other continents

China and Russia have strong links, at least since military forces from both nations performed wargames drills together for the first time, in August 2005. In 2016 again, more huge drills were conducted China and Russie, mixing their ground, naval, and air forces. In 2015, China signed an agreement with Gazprom to be supplied with 400 billion of dollars of gaz for the next ten years. On the other hand, since it suffered from trade sanctions from the EU, Russia turned to China, to buy several vital supplies.

China is in need of russian military hardware to equip its forces before it could at last become self-sufficient with its own combat aircraft production, especially that of the J-20s. First Su-35 - from a contract to supply 24 of them - was delivered to the PLAAF this month. As soon as J-20s will be "ops", with the PLAAF, Su-35s will undoubtedly represent the last foreign jet fighters bought by the chinese for their air force, in their history. China is also in need of core techs from Russia, and engines to power its airplanes, before its engineers can get all knowledge and full ability to produce proper jet engines for its combat aircraft and airlifters. A cooperation for a joint heavy airliner between COMAC and Iluyshin was signed at the show. So from a Russian point of view, Airshow China is surely the main foreign event they have to attend every two years with Rostec, Sukhoi, Kamox, Mil and Iluyshin. 

In march 2013, Vladimir Putin expected « Chinese winds in russian sails » ...

Russians prove the efficiency of a team as an efficient tool for « soft power » action by a government.

In march 2014, Vladimir Putin called for « Chinese wind in russian sails ». This was the least we could say this year at Zhuhai with the « flying ». To witness Russian and Chinese strategic ties, Russian Air Force sent both military teams from Kubinka : Russian Knights flying five Su-27s, and Swifts (Strizhi) with six MiG-29s. For the first time outside of Russia, they performed their famed « Kubinka Diamond », composed of five Su-27s plus four MiGs. This show could be performed two times a day on public weekend, each display lasting no less than 50 minutes ! On business days, both teams performed their individual show, also two times a day, but with different number of airplanes, on each day. As such Russians prove to be the most modular teams in the world of military aerobatic teams. They also prove the efficiency of a team as an efficient tool for « soft power » action by a government.

Other proof of efficient "soft power" policy, is the RAF Red Arrows participation at Zhuhai, as part of an "Asia-Pacific and Middle East tour". China was the 57th country ever visited by the famous british team during their six weeks journey away from UK. Other nations they performed over during the adventure, were Bangladesh, Bahrain, India, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Singapore and the UAE.  Flypasts were flown over the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands. The tour was part of a british government campaign to promote the country's interests across business, technology inovation, education, and even " creativity ". I guess there may be no more positive and effective way to promote a "soft powered" post BREXIT Britain looking for new opportunities than their Red Arrows. Every night on Chinese news and TV channels, in Zhuhai, Reds were on the screens.


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