Photos: New Hypersonic Missiles, China's First Indigenous Airliner on Display at Zhuhai Air Show
17:18 GMT 08.11.2022 (Updated: 17:19 GMT 08.11.2022)
China’s annual International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in the Pearl River Delta city of Zhuhai is often used to showcase the country’s rapidly advancing aerospace capabilities. Past debuts have included the FC-31 and J-20 stealth aircraft and the first-ever quantum radar, and the city welcomes elite acrobatics teams from around the globe.
As the 14th Zhuhai Air Show kicked off on Tuesday, attendees got their first look at several new items in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) arsenal, including new hypersonic missiles, anti-drone technology, and the first passenger airliner designed and made in China.
More than 740 domestic and overseas enterprises from 43 countries and regions are present at the exhibition or online, and some 110 aircraft are positioned on display, as well as numerous land vehicles and weapons.
One hypersonic missile on display was an export version of the YJ-21 or Eagle Strike 21
, an air-launched ballistic missile (ALBM) with a range of more than 1,240 miles. However, the weapon was first seen fired from
a Type 055 guided-missile destroyer earlier this year.
Another hypersonic weapon, labeled 2PZD-21, was displayed mounted under the wings of a Xi’an H-6K bomber, a highly modernized version of the Soviet-built Tupolev Tu-16 which is China’s only strategic bomber.
According to experts, the missile closely resembles Russia’s Kh-47 Kinzhal, a hypersonic surface strike missile carried by the MiG-31K interceptor and Tu-22M3 bomber - neither of which China uses. The Kinzhal also has a range of more than 1,240 miles and is reported to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
There were also several air defense systems at Zhuhai, including an anti-drone defense system that is reportedly capable of detecting and intercepting drone swarms. The system is made by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) and called the ZR-1500, and is itself unmanned.
A new short-range air defense system (SHORAD) was also on display, called the HQ-11. The system is intended to protect against cruise missiles, guided munitions, and aircraft.
Stealth Fighter Shows Off
And of course, Chengdu’s J-20 “Mighty Dragon” stealth fighter was also present, performing an aerial display as usual, but also being put on static display for the first time, for attendees to walk around.
Several new unmanned aerial vehicles belonging to the Wing Loong family of drones built by Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) were also unveiled at Zhuhai.
The Wing Loong 1E, a development of the Wing Loong 1 drone, is a medium- to long-endurance drone able to be fitted out for combat or reconnaissance missions. It is reportedly able to stay aloft for 45 hours, has a maximum range of 4,350 miles, and can carry two 50-kilogram weapons at an altitude of 33,000 feet.
The Wing Loong 3 is a long-range, heavy-duty, multi-tasking, medium-long endurance UAV that can fill electronic reconnaissance and interference as well as a number of naval roles, including anti-submarine warfare and maritime rescue missions.
The Wing Loong 10A and 10B is reported to be an export variant.
Some more peaceful aircraft also made debut appearances at Zhuhai, including the Comac C919, China’s first home-grown passenger jet airliner. The narrow-body aircraft can carry up to 168 passengers and was given its final airworthiness certification by China’s Civil Aviation Administration in late September. China Eastern Airlines is expected to receive the first orders for the aircraft. It is expected to compete with the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320.
The world’s largest amphibious aircraft, the AG600M Kunlong
flying boat built by AVIC, also made an appearance. The huge seaplane flew for the first time
in August, and is expected to fill vital roles in fire fighting, search and rescue, and accessing remote areas along China’s many rivers.
The air show is ongoing until Sunday, so who knows what other surprises will turn up.