China Wants To Sell More Combat Aircraft And Drones In Africa

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Written by Dana Sanchez

China’s government-owned aviation industry has an expansion plan in Africa to promote sales of Chinese-made aircraft that includes an aviation training center, regional marketing offices, maintenance centers, and spare-parts warehouses, TheDiplomat reports.

China says at least 80 percent of training aircraft operated by African air forces are Chinese-made and it wants to increase exports of combat aircraft, according to the report.

South Africa, Tanzania and the Republic of Congo are the main countries targeted for expansion, with warehouses planned in Zimbabwe and Kenya.

Chinese government-owned company International Aero Development Corp. was set up to promote exports of AVIC, the Aviation Industry Corp. of China — one of the largest government-owned developers of military and civilian aviation technology in China.

AVIC already has a large stake in the African aircraft market, according to TheDiplomat. Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ethiopia, Namibia, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, Mauritania, and Djibouti operate AVIC planes including training aircraft.

“Compared with Western counterparts, our aircraft have proven more suitable for operations in Africa because they are more adaptable to tough use and bad infrastructure,” said Zhang Guangjian, general manager of International Aero Development Corp, at the Aviation Expo China 2015 in Beijing in September.

China is also pushing sales of its new drone, the Wing Loong II UAV, according to TheDiplomat.

The drone can perform surveillance and reconnaissance as well as air-to-ground strikes and is somewhat comparable to the U.S. MQ-9 Reaper, according to IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly. However, its speed, payload capacity, and maximum operating ceiling are significantly less than the Reaper’s, Jane’s reports.

AVIC is hoping that the Wing Loong II will help Chinese companies capture a larger part of the international UAV market.

“The advanced drone will help China obtain a bigger share in the international market because it will be one of the most capable military drones in the market,” Chinese analyst Wang Yanan said in an interview with Defense News.

China has exported Wing Loong I drones to Africa since 2011, including Nigeria, and Egypt.