China’s biggest airshow to highlight military prowess

China’s military will display some of its most advanced weaponry and equipment when the country’s largest airshow gets under way this week.

Airshow China opens in the southern city of Zhuhai on Tuesday after a year-long delay as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The state-run newspaper Global Times reported there would be “dazzling flight performances” involving the J-20, the air force’s’s most advanced fighter jet.

Other advanced aircraft including the J-16D electronic warfare aircraft, WZ-7 high-altitude drone and WZ-8 high-altitude, high-speed drone, would also be on static display at the outdoor exhibition area for the first time, the paper said.

The show, highlighting the country’s efforts to improve homegrown aerospace technology, comes amid growing strategic rivalry in the Asia Pacific.

The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia recently announced a trilateral security pack for the region, including the provision of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, while the Quad leaders met in person for the first time at the White House on Friday.

The Quad includes the US, Australia, Japan and India and is seen as an effort to counter the rise of China, which has become increasingly assertive in the region, particularly in the disputed South China Sea and over Taiwan.

“As China faces increasing threats from the West, it needs to improve its military-industrial, aviation and aerospace capabilities,” said Song Zhongping, a military commentator and former PLA instructor on missile technology.

The J-16D has two large electronic warfare pods on its wings, which will be used to disrupt and jam hostile electronic equipment, including radar and communications systems, the Global Times reported. It also has a new avionics system and domestically-made engines.

More than 100 aircraft have registered for display in the air or on the ground as China shows off its military might and its space ambitions, including a next-generation crewed rocket and heavy-lift launch vehicle.

The flying displays will feature some products China wants to export, including the AG600, the world’s largest amphibious aircraft, designed for fire-fighting and sea-rescue roles.

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