China Showcases Ambitious New Drones and Jets at Zhuhai Military Airshow

The 13th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, or Airshow China 2021, kicked off in Zhuhai, south China's Guangdong Province, on September 28 with aerobatic performances. Beijing showed off its increasingly sophisticated air power including surveillance drones in the country's biggest airshow.

The exhibition is the largest in mainland China and has been held every 2 years since 1996. A number of high-tech technological products will make their debut during the six-day event, reported CGTN.

About 700 enterprises from 40 countries and regions are taking part in the event, for which the number of venues has increased from eight to 11. The event was postponed from late 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Multiple signature planes of China's Air Force including the J-20 stealth fighter are presented.

China's second stealth fighter jet, the FC-31, made its reappearance at the exhibition. It is displayed together with the powerful PL-15E beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile, as the missile, also used by China's J-20 stealth fighter jet, is announced to be available for export for the first time, reported the Global Times.

On Tuesday, the air force aerobatic team left colorful vapor trails as it maneuvered in formation, while visitors inspected new jets, drones and attack helicopters on the tarmac, reported AFP.

Largest Military Airshow

The CH-6, a prototype drone with a wingspan of 20.5 meters (67 feet), was among the domestic tech unveiled.

It is designed for surveillance and can also carry weapons for strike missions, according to open-source intelligence agency Janes.

The drone has a cruising altitude of 10,000 meters, "but it can go as high as 15,000 meters," Qin Yongming, general manager of drone maker Aerospace CH UAV Co, told AFP.

"It can fly for longer periods (than previous models)... it can carry out longer missions, with higher efficiency without any time limits."

Other debutants included the WZ-7 high-altitude drone for border reconnaissance and maritime patrol, as well as the J-16D fighter that has the ability to jam electronic equipment. According to the state media, both have already entered service with the Chinese air force.

"They will play a major role in both the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea," military commentator Song Zhongping told AFP.

China's largest military airshow kicks off in Zhuhai
China's largest military airshow kicks off in Zhuhai YouTube/ CGTN

According to media reports, China's independently developed AG600 large amphibious aircraft performed its first airshow flight.

Over 30 kinds of ground equipment, including VT4 and VT5 tanks will also have live demonstrations.

China's 2035 Deadline to Retool its Military for Modern Warfare

The ruling Communist Party is pouring billions of dollars into developing fighter jets, stealth technology, drones and other hardware for the People's Liberation Army amid its rivalry with the US.

The country's biggest airshow comes as China" has been at loggerheads with the tiny island of Taiwan, and other neighbors, including India, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam among others over territorial disputes. Beijing is pushing to meet a 2035 deadline to retool its military for modern warfare.