SINGAPORE AIRSHOW: China Shows Off Military Aircraft to Potential Customers

By Meredith Roaten
Pakistan JF-17

Shimin Gu photo

SINGAPORE — China is showing off its aerospace wares for potential buyers at one of the Asia-Pacific's largest trade shows, as the nation competes with the United States for military and economic influence in the region.

At the Singapore Airshow Feb. 15, the state-owned China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corp. displayed a variety of military aircraft including fighter jets, helicopters and drones. 

The organization touted the JF-17 Thunder multirole fighter’s versatility for various mission sets. A pamphlet for the platform highlighted its flight performance characteristics at medium and low altitudes, integrated avionics and weapon systems. It also features defensive capabilities including a 360-degree infrared missile approach warning system.

The jet can travel at speeds up to Mach 1.6 and achieve a maximum thrust of 8,600 kilograms, according to the company.

“Characterized by the outstanding performance-cost-ratio, the JF-17 can provide customers with round-the-clock capability in all types of operational environments and meet the increasing demands of modern air combat,” according to a pamphlet.

Pakistan announced earlier this month it would add the newest variant of the Thunder jets to its fleet.

The confab in Singapore also marked just the second international trade show appearance for China's L-15 supersonic jet trainer and light attack aircraft. It also appeared at the Dubai Airshow last fall.

Singapore’s top defense official visited the Singapore Airshow Feb. 15 and stopped by the China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corp. booth. The company was one of several exhibitors to host Ng Eng Hen, Singapore’s minister of defense, on the opening day of the airshow.

During the visit, the Chinese company highlighted a number of unmanned aerial systems, including a model of the WL-2. The multi-purpose reconnaissance drone was first unveiled in 2016. The platform is a medium speed and long-endurance aircraft, meaning it can fly at a cruising speed of 180 to 280 kilometers per hour and can operate for a maximum of 20 hours, according to a company pamphlet.

The drone can also carry synthetic aperture radar and payloads for collecting signal intelligence.

The visit was symbolic of Singapore and China’s long-standing military relationship. The two countries signed a renewed defense agreement in 2019, which established a regular dialogue between the country’s defense leadership in addition to partnerships in logistics support.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon views China as a "pacing threat." U.S. and Chinese companies also compete for customers in the international arms market.

The U.S. military is flying an F-35B joint strike fighter, B-52 bomber and RQ-4 drone during the Singapore airshow. However, rival Chinese aircraft have no flying displays scheduled.

Topics: Global Defense Market

Comments (0)

Retype the CAPTCHA code from the image
Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code
Please enter the text displayed in the image.