China unveiled several land warfare weapons and platforms at Airshow China in Zhuhai last week to cater to a growing demand, particularly in the Middle East, South America and Asia.
Earlier this year China tasted a surprise success in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with a sale of 150 units of the V-shaped VP11 4x4 wheeled mine-resistant vehicle manufactured by China North Industries Group Corporation (CNIGC). At the Zuhai show, CNIGC exhibited six kinds of products, including tanks, armored vehicles and anti-tank missiles.
The China South Industries Group Corporation (CSIGC) displayed more than 50 types of equipment including weapons, radar and unmanned reconnaissance vehicles. The CS AR1 55mm anti-frogman rocket launcher made its debut at the exhibition. It is believed that the rocket launcher could be used in the South China Sea to deal with frogmen from Vietnam have been reportedly involved in the two countries' disputes in the South China Sea, local media reported.
The UAE sale has significantly bolstered the prospects of Chinese weapons in the international market as the Gulf country is considered to have a rigid evaluation system and prefers quality over price.
One of the significant exhibits at Zuhai was the SR5 guided multiple launch rocket system (MLRS), a short-to-medium-range universal launching platform with automatic loading technology. A Beijing based magazine editor We Xiao was quoted in the local media as saying, "It is safe to say that some of the technology applied in the SR5 is more advanced since it is a 2013 product," Xiao said. "Its most significant feature is its high reloading efficiency. Unlike other MLRS that take an hour to reload, the SR5 takes five minutes."
The Red Arrow missile also drew the attention of the crowds, particularly the Red Arrow 12 fire-and-forget multi-purpose missile, which boasts a one-man crew and soft-launch design.
While armies in developing countries are keen to modernize their land systems, high priced western equipment is proving to be a damper. The number of companies which manufacture land systems such as armored vehicles, artillery guns and surface to air missiles and rockets has dwindles in the last 10 years due to falling orders from their home market. This in turn has forced the remaining ones to hike prices substantially.
Russia, the only other manufacturer of land systems is not considered inexpensive anymore and many questions have been raised about the reliability of Russian systems. Western weapons come with many riders on usage besides high prices. This has opened a large field to a new entrant and China seems to be wanting to make the most of it.