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FC-20 Export Variant

The Chengdu FC-20 multirole fighter aircraft is the export version of the Chengdu J-10. State-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) has confirmed that it is actively seeking international sales for the FC-20. The corporation only received official approval to export the FC-20 a "few years" after 2010. The aircraft is being targeted for sale to customers in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and South America.

As global attention was drawn to when China's in-service top-grade home-made J-10 fighter aircraft entered the international market, Ma Zhiping, vice president of the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC), disclosed recently that many countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America had already enquired about price of J-10. According to Ma Zhiping, many clients have contacted to enquire the price of J-10 series fighters. These clients came from various countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America and include those traditional users of Chinese military aircraft as well as those countries which previously used Russia's series fighters and French fighters.

Ma Zhiping made a clear statement in an interview by reporters from Global Times on September 25 that: "We can say in a very responsible way that the J-10 fighter aircraft hasn't been exported to Pakistan. The export of a model of military aircraft has to be approved by the country first. However, J-10 hasn't acquired the related export license so far." Ma said on the sidelines of the ongoing 15th Aviation Expo/China 2013 in Beijing "Obtaining a national permit in advance of exporting it is top priority". Export would improve China's market competitiveness in the international arms trade as other countries, such the US and Russia, are eagerly promoting their third-generation jets - the F-15, F16, Su-27 and Su-30 - worldwide, while China's customers, in contrast, are still using the second-generation J-7 or J-8.

Developing countries that do not have close military attachments with Western countries will be potential buyers of China's FC-20 fighter jet. Du Wenlong, a military expert, stated in February 2016 that the export of FC-20 fighters is constrained by various conditions. First of all, member countries of NATO will not only pass on the fighter jet but will also go against it since China's fighter jet export takes market shares from U.S. F-16 fighters. Secondly, extremely wealthy countries will prefer more expensive and comprehensive fighters to the FC-20. However, it is undeniable that countries that do not have access to American fighters or look down on Russian ones will be potential buyers of China's FC-20.

Speaking about the differences between the FC-20 and its prototype, J-10, Du stated that the two versions mainly differ from each other not in appearance and basic performance but in functions. The J-10 fighter is a combat aircraft designed for the People's Liberation Army Air Force, while the export version of the fighter can adjust its configuration and performance to the demands of potential clients.

As for the advantages of the FC-20, Du stated that the aircraft is cheaper than its American and Russian counterparts. China is good at cost control when it comes to weapons manufacturing. Furthermore, China's export of weaponry will not be hampered at all by political pretexts. The U.S. regards arms export and military cooperation as important diplomatic indicators for friends and enemies; China, on the other hand, conducts military and technological cooperation with other countries as equals. What's more, if China sells an aircraft to another country, that country will provide technological or personnel support for application and maintenance.

Du also said that China's export of fighters still falls behind that of the U.S., Russia and other European countries, especially when it comes to main force fighters. The American F-16 and Russian Mikoyan MiG-29 are superior to China's FC-20 in terms of market shares. At present, the export of advanced Chinese weaponry is struggling to expand its market share in the face of established patterns.

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Page last modified: 24-02-2016 20:03:31 ZULU