China made a shining display of cutting-edge military technology at the main event of its air show this week, while broadcasting its growing ambitions for space exploration and self-sufficiency in commercial aircraft.
Travel restrictions related to the epidemic meant that the China Air Show in the southern city of Zhuhai was primarily a domestic affair, but foreign observers closely followed the events from afar, as the country worked to improve its military might.
“The major platforms in service with PLAAF, which were previously operated in the strictest secrecy and are shown to the public for the first time, have attracted significant interest from the international public,” said Kelvin Wong, Guinness Defense Editor, based in Singapore.
Wong singled out the WZ-7 Xianglong, a heavy-duty, heavy-duty reconnaissance unmanned aircraft almost similar to the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 of the American company Global Hawk, but with inferior engines.
Wong said the WZ-7 was spotted operating from air bases near the China-India border, the North Korean border and the South China Sea.
China is working hard to improve the performance of its self-made engines, which have lagged behind Western technology. At the show, its J-20 fighter jets flew with Chinese rather than Russian engines for the first time.
The plane’s chief designer told the Global Times on Wednesday that two types of domestic engines for the Y-20 transport plane are also being tested.
The J-16D electronic warfare fighter, the closest equivalent to the US EA-18G Growler, has been demonstrated on the ground, showing off a capability that experts say could help erode Taiwan’s anti-aircraft defenses in the event of a conflict.
Wong said at least three types of jamming capsules were introduced on board, indicating that each is designed to disrupt different parts of the electron spectrum.
China has also revealed that it is seeking a drone to help protect more expensive manned combat aircraft, in line with competing projects in the United States, Britain, Australia, India and Russia.
China has also revealed that it hopes to launch its next generation of heavy rockets, powerful enough to send a manned spacecraft to the moon, in 2028, two years earlier than expected.
Among passenger aircraft, China is stepping up efforts to achieve self-sufficiency in key technologies, amid trade tensions with the United States.
China’s Aero Engine Corp. has demonstrated a full-size rotor model of the CJ1000 engine under development for the C919, which could eventually replace imported CFM International LEAP-1C engines.
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