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People's Daily Online

Air show spotlights Chinese UAVs

People's Daily Online

By Huang Ge in Beijing and Hu Weijia in Zhuhai (Global Times) 08:13, October 31, 2016

Domestic drones see edge in global market: expert

This year's China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition (Airshow China) is likely to put the spotlight on a number of domestic unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), which will bring intensified competition to the global drone market, experts said on Sunday.

Airshow China 2016 will be held from Tuesday to Sunday in Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong Province. The air show is a gateway for international aviation and aerospace enterprises to showcase their latest technologies and products in the fast-growing Chinese market.

"This year's Zhuhai air show exhibition scale will hit a new high with an increased number of international participants," Liu Yang, COO of Sichuan-based AOSSCI Technology Ltd, told the Global Times on Sunday.

More than 700 exhibitors from 42 countries and regions, among which, 45 percent are foreign firms, have signed up for the show this year. The expo will also feature 130 aircraft for static and flying displays, including a large variety of business jets and private aircraft, according to information posted on the official Airshow China website.

There will be nine exhibition halls, accounting for 82,000 square meters in indoor space, the website also mentioned.

In addition to the usual national pavilions from countries like Russia, Ukraine, France, the Czech Republic, the US and Canada, Liu said that Austria would be making its debut while the Netherlands and New Zealand would both be making their return after nearly a decade.

Chinese drones

Apart from showcasing its new domestic-built J-20 stealth fighter and jets such as the J-10B, China will showcase various UAVs that will garner plenty of public notice, media reports said.

One of the drones that has been attracting attention in recent days is the cloud shadow UAV which arrived in Zhuhai on Friday.

A staff member working at the cloud shadow UAV exhibition hall, who requested to remain anonymous, told the Global Times on Sunday that this would be the first time that the cloud shadow UAV appeared at Airshow China. The military drone is made by AVIC Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Group Co.

"When compared with [drones made by] the US, they have advanced technology but Chinese drones are cost-effective, so China has the advantage to export its drones to countries and regions along the 'Belt and Road' route," he said.

The "Belt and Road" initiative was put forward by President Xi Jinping in 2013 to enhance connectivity between Asian, European and African countries.

The anonymous employee noted that the jet maker expects responses from the market following the drone's air show debut.

"The appearance of domestic drones at the air show will grab the market share in the global market and place intensified competition to its foreign rivals such as the US," Liu said.

Another highlight at the expo will be the CH-5 combat UAV developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

The Zhuhai air show, for the first time, will feature demonstrations for certain types of defense equipment, including armored tanks, assault vehicles and cross country vehicles, said Liu.

Meanwhile, the UK's Royal Air Force Red Arrow and the Russian Aerobatic Composite Formation Team "Knights and Swifts" will also participate, the Airshow China website said.

Further growth

China's drone sector is seeing a rapid rise in momentum as domestic products have found a competitive edge in the global market thanks to relatively low costs and good performance, Wang Yanan, chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The application value of civilian drones has been widely recognized, and large investment in military drones has promoted more research and development in the country's military equipment, Wang noted.

"Some problems still need to be dealt with [in developing military UAVs]. Relevant research and development companies in China are expected to pay close attention to the service conditions of domestic drone exports in foreign countries and regions, aiming to find ways for improvements," Wang noted.

Chinese firms will also need to have a clear plan and figure out what kind of drones will be in demand, he said.

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