China starts selling military drones and civilian planes, competing and threatening directly the US and most developed countries

News about China's aviation technology have recently caught my eyes, and it looks like both in the civil and military, China is catching up very quickly with the main players (like the US and Europe).

Here are some very interesting quotes from a WSJ report:
ZHUHAI, China—China is ramping up production of unmanned aerial vehicles in an apparent bid to catch up with the U.S. and Israel in developing technology that is considered the future of military aviation.

Western defense officials and experts were surprised to see more than 25 different Chinese models of the unmanned aircraft, known as UAVs, on display at this week's Zhuhai air show in this southern Chinese city. It was a record number for a country that unveiled its first concept UAVs at the same air show only four years ago, and put a handful on display at the last one in 2008.

The apparent progress in UAVs is a stark sign of China's ambition to upgrade its massive military as its global political and economic clout grows.

The U.S. and Israel are currently the world leaders in developing such pilotless drones, which have played a major role in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and which analysts say could one day replace the fighter jet.

This year's models in Zhuhai included several designed to fire missiles, and one powered by a jet engine, meaning it could—in theory—fly faster than the propeller-powered Predator and Reaper drones that the U.S. has used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
But the large number of UAVs on display illustrates clearly that China is investing considerable time and money to develop drone technology, and is actively promoting its products on the international market.

That has implications for China's external and domestic security, as well as for many other countries, including Iran, that have sought in vain to acquire drones either for military purposes or for police surveillance and antiterrorist operations.

It is of particular concern to the U.S. and Israel, whose drones are unrivalled in the world today, and could worry China's neighbors, many of which have territorial disputes with China in the East and South China seas.

China's apparent progress is likely to spur others, especially India and Japan, to accelerate their own UAV development or acquisition programs.

U.S. anxiety about China's UAVs were highlighted in a report released Wednesday by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, which was formed by Congress in 2000 to assess the national security implications of trade and economic relations with China.

"The PLA Air Force has deployed several types of unmanned aerial vehicles for both reconnaissance and combat purposes," the report said. "In addition, China is developing a variety of medium- and high-altitude long-endurance unmanned vehicles, which when deployed, will expand the PLA Air Force's 'options for long-range reconnaissance and strike,' " it said, citing an earlier Pentagon report.

Military and aviation experts said China's drones are still probably several years behind U.S. and Israeli models, noting that many countries have tried and failed to develop their own UAVs. But they also said that China is catching up fast in other areas of civil and military aviation technology, thanks in large part to technology transferred by foreign aerospace companies in Chinese joint ventures.

They suggested, too, that China had been helped by Israel, which sold China antiradar drones in the 1990s—to the fury of the Pentagon, which has since blocked the Israelis from providing upgrades.

The Chinese drone of greatest potential concern to the U.S. is the one with several missiles and a jet engine—called the WJ600—which was displayed by China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp., or Casic, one of China's top weapons makers.

Casic officials declined to comment, but a video and a two-dimensional display by the company showed Chinese forces using the WJ600 to help attack what appeared to be a U.S. aircraft carrier steaming toward an island off China's coast that many visitors assumed to be Taiwan.
The company showing the most UAVs, with 10, was ASN Technology Group, which claims to control 90% of China's domestic market. ASN officials said two of those are already being used by the PLA but neither was designed to carry weapons.

However, their display also included a model of the largest UAV at the show, the ASN-229A Reconnaissance and Precise Attack UAV, which is designed to carry air-to ground missiles, and to use a satellite link to locate and attack targets over a radius of 2,000 kilometers.

Company officials said that and the other ASN models were all in production, but not yet all on the market, and most could be used for military operations as well as civilian ones such as monitoring electricity pylons and oil and gas pipelines.

One model under development was the ASN-211, which is about the size of a large duck and has flapping wings. It is designed primarily for carrying out reconnaissance behind enemy lines.

"I can't tell you which models we have sold overseas, as that's secret, but of course we're interested in exporting them," said one of the company officials. "That's why we're displaying them here."
And here are some quotes from a Bloomberg report:
Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China announced its first 100 C919 passenger-plane orders, breaking Airbus SAS and Boeing Co.’s stranglehold on the world’s second- largest aircraft market.

General Electric Co.’s leasing arm and China’s big three domestic airlines are among customers for the narrowbody plane, state-controlled Comac said in a statement issued at the Zhuhai air show in southern China today. Chinese airlines accounted for more than half the orders, said Zhang Xinguo, vice president of Comac shareholder, Aviation Industry Corp. of China.

Comac has a full-sized model of the front section of the aircraft on display at the show as it challenges Boeing and Airbus’s grip on a domestic plane market that could be worth $480 billion through 2029, according to Boeing. The Chinese planemaker expects to sell more than 2,000 C919s worldwide over 20 years competing against Boeing and Airbus’s most popular jets.
This is actually great. It means that many countries that are currently embargoed by the US and more generally the West, might be able to have safe planes and flights. This is really good for their economic development, which normally leads to also more freedom.
The C919, which has 166 seats in its standard version, competes with Boeing’s 737 and the Airbus A320. 
The plane is scheduled to make its maiden flight in 2014 before entering service two years later.
Ok, so we're not really there yet. But it does look like China is really going to produce commercial planes very soon — provided no fiasco such as the A380 and the Dreamliner happen.
Airbus this month announced an order for 102 planes from China, including 50 A320s. The planemaker will assemble half of the single-aisle planes at a plant in Tianjin, China, its only production line outside of Europe. Chicago-based Boeing has won 737 orders this year from Air China, Okay Airways Co. and China Southern’s Xiamen Airlines.
China had 1,259 commercial aircraft at the end of 2008, according to the nation’s aviation regulator. In 1980, it had a fleet of about 140 commercial planes, mostly seating less than 50 passengers, under the management of the air force.

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