Chinese-made armaments have become increasingly popular in the international market, according to an industry insider. “We have observed several successive years of good revenue from the export of our products, and the sales figures keep rising year-on-year,” Liu Song, deputy general manager of research and development at China North Industries Corp, popularly abbreviated as Norinco, told China Daily at the 10th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition. The show, which closed on Sunday, was held in Zhuhai, Guangdong province.
As the export wing of China North Industries Group Corp, the country’s biggest developer and maker of land armaments, Liu’s company brought to the exhibition 44 weapons in six categories, including armored vehicles, anti-tank missiles and multiple rocket launchers.
“Our exhibits cover almost all weapons an army would probably need,” Liu said. “We came here with two goals: showing the achievement of technological innovation made by China’s ground weapon industry, and making more people know our products.”
Having retained traditional clients in South Asia and Middle East regions, Norinco has been successful in winning new buyers in Africa and South America, according to Liu. “The demand for our products from emerging markets continues to expand, and now a lot of foreign armies are coming to us,” Liu said. Here fused to reveal details such as buyers’ identities and sales volume, citing the company’s confidentiality policy.
Among the exhibits Norinco displayed at the show, the VT-4 main battle tank, was arguably the biggest star.
Formerly designated as MBT-3000, the tank features superb mobility and strong firepower as well as a cutting-edge data exchange network, Liu said.
According to Western military publications, the VT-4 is equipped with an electronic-controlled diesel engine with 1,200 horsepower, giving the tank a cruise speed of 68 kilo-meters per hour. Its main gun is a 125-mm smoothbore that can fire various shells, including a kinetic energy penetrator and high explosive anti-tank warhead. In addition, it can also fire anti-tank missiles with a maximum range of 5,000meters.
“It has an advanced fire-control system, a new-type active protection system and a state-of-the-art fully automatic transmission device,” he said. “In addition, the inter-unit network connects commanders of tanks and armored vehicles under a combat group, enabling them to share battlefield data in real time.”
The VT-4 can compete with any first-class tank used by Western militaries such as the United States’ M1A2 Abrams and Germany’s Leopard 2A6, Liu said, adding that Russia’s T-90 is no match for the Chinese tank in terms of technology.
Other weapons Norinco highlighted at the show included the PLZ-52, a new-generation, 155 mm self-propelled howitzer whose predecessor sold well in the Middle East, and the HJ-12 anti-tank missile, which has fire-and-forget capability and can even hit a helicopter flying at slow speed.
“Many of our products were specifically designed for the overseas market. Their capabilities are as good as those of Western weapons, but the prices are much more competitive,” Liu said.
Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Bloomberg: “The Chinese systems are simply cheaper, they are reliable and they are tailored to the conditions of developing countries. As the systems get more sophisticated, they will under-cut Europe and the US and compete with Russia.”
During a promotion in August in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, diplomats, military officials and defense contractors from 44 countries were given a field performance by Norinco’s VT-4 tanks and combat vehicles.
“Several countries have expressed interest in the VT-4 after their officials saw the tank display, and we are negotiating with them on this matter,” Liu said.