China's defense industry goes on the offensive on the export scene

In 2000, Chinese arms exports painfully represented more than $300 million. In 2009, they exceeded $XNUMX billion for the first time, then $2 billion in 2013. Today, China ranks fourth among arms exporters in the world, with more than $5 billion in turnover in 2021, behind the United States, Russia and France, but ahead of Germany, Italy, Great Britain, South Korea and Israel. Over the period 2017-2021, according to the SIPRI institute, Beijing won 4,6% of world exports, with an obvious dynamic of very significant growth. Beyond the traditional customers of Chinese defense industries, such as Pakistan, they have also considerably extended their international base, now being very present in Africa and Asia, but also in the Middle East, South America and even in Europe. Judging by their presence at IDEX 2023, which is being held this week in Abu Dhabi, it is to be expected that Beijing will quickly become a major and essential player on this international scene, even a direct competitor of the United States.

Like Russia, China most often offers dedicated equipment for export, rather than equipment identical to that in service with the People's Liberation Army. In Abu Dhabi, the Chinese stand is one of the most imposing, with more than 500 references on display, ranging from wandering munitions to the FC-31 stealth fighter plane, including the VT-4 tank and the self-propelled gun. , and is particularly opportunistic in seizing promising markets. Today, most of the Gulf countries, from the United Arab Emirates to Iran, implement Chinese systems, in particular MALE Wing Loong drones acquired when Washington refused to deliver its Reapers, and Beijing is making many efforts to increase its presence in certain key states, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Morocco.

The VT4 is derived from the T99 in service in the APL Analyzes Défense | Training and attack aircraft | Transport Aviation
The VT-4 heavy tank is an export-only model derived from the Type 96 and Type 99A. It is offered below the $5 million mark.

It must be said that Chinese equipment has something to seduce today. Far from the image of unreliability and mediocre performance that they had a few years ago, and which continues to influence the consideration of the risk that they represent for Western and particularly European exports, these these are in fact now judged to be efficient, reliable and efficient by their users, for a price of acquisition and implementation that is significantly lower than what European industries offer. Thus, a VT-4 heavy tank is offered at less than $5 million per unit, list price, i.e. less than half the price of a Western tank, for performances and systems, if not comparable, in any case close. . Similarly, the L15 training and attack aircraft is offered below the $15 million mark. fly away condition, compared to $25m for the Italian M346 with comparable performance and capabilities. It is hardly surprising, in this context, that this equipment is finding more and more buyers on the international scene, while much more modern and efficient systems, such as the Y-20 cargo plane, the Type 054A frigates or the Type 039B submarines are also offered at very attractive prices.

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