The Zhuhai Airshow is China’s biggest aerospace and defense display and notable as a venue for rolling out new systems. In the past, it’s served as the public debut for fighters such as the J-8, JH-7 and J-10. On the civilian side, Zhuhai 2014 will be a bazaar for foreign companies like Airbus and Boeing to pitch their jumbo jetliners, while China’s COMAC and its partners will try to drum up excitement for the C919 airliner.
J-31: The latest Chinese stealth fighter, the J-31 will undoubtedly be the star of this year’s Zhuhai Airshow. The J-31 has already arrived in southern China to prepare for the airshow. The J-31, designed and built by Shenyang Aviation Corporation, is a 20-ton, twin-engined stealth fighter, about the same size as the American F-35. Once it enters service, the J-31 would serve as a medium fighter alongside the heavier J-20, as well as on China’s future carriers. While the J-31 is currently still in the technology demonstrator phase with minimal avionics and interim engines, China is hoping that its airshow debut could draw interest from Arab nations unable to purchase the F-35, as well as Pakistan and Latin America.
J-10B: The next step in China’s most modern fighter type, the J-10, the J-10B features advanced features such as a stealthy Diverterless Supersonic Intake (DSI), an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, a cheaper, powerful Russian engine and self-defense measures like electronic jammers. The J-10B is a likely candidate for export to Pakistan, as well as to the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
Y-20: While not as threatening as stealth fighters, the 220-ton Y-20 heavy transport is China’s heaviest domestic airplane. The Y-20 is expected to at least make a flyby on the November 11 opening of Zhuhai 2014. The Y-20 can carry a payload of up to 66 tons, giving China a modern heavy airlift capability that can service overseas peacekeeping, humanitarian relief and combat airdrops of tanks and paratroopers.
Flankers: Rumor has it that the Chinese derivatives of the Russian Su-27 heavy fighter could show. These would be highly modern aircraft such as the J-15 carrier fighter, its twin seat J-15S strike fighter and the J-16 strike fighter. While China does not intend to export these fighters, a public display of its new carrier and strike fighters would be a clear demonstration of Chinese efforts to build naval aviation and long range strike capabilities.
Avionics, missiles and engines: AVIC is likely to display more models of the WS-10 turbofan engine, along with smaller engines for cruise missiles and UAVs. Perhaps most notable will be radars, which could include electronically scanned radars on fifth generation fighters, as well as precision guided munitions that include LS series glide bombs and HJ-10 anti-tank missiles. The Pl-12 beyond visual range air to air missile (BVRAAM) will be present, other BVRAAMs like the antiradiation LD-10 and ramjet PL-21.
Anti-access: The usual plethora of anti-ship and anti-air missiles is likely to include the YJ-83 and YJ-62 antiship cruise missiles, as well as the HQ-9 long range surface to air missile (which won a 2013 Turkish contract), along with the medium range HQ-16, and short-range defense missiles like the FL-3000. Chinese drones are likely to appear, such as the Pterodactyl UCAV and tactical BZK-006.
Newcomer: NORINCO, the manufacturer of many of the PLA’s tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and artillery, has secured a large exhibition area. NORINCO is likely to display scaled down models of its tanks (the 2014 Pentagon report on the PLA described NORINCO’s weapons as “world class”), along with large rocket artillery like the SY-400, A-100 and B611 tactical ballistic missile.
Be sure to mark your calender and check back with Eastern Arsenal on the week of November 11-14, as Zhuhai 2014 kicks off!
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