South Korea has cancelled its planned participation at the ‘Airshow China’ held next week at Zhuhai, near Hong Kong. Seoul was planning to participate with ‘Black Eagles’, the national aerobatic team flying the indigenous T-50 fighter/trainer. It was the first time that South Korea’s air force was invited to the Zhuhai air show, according to Chinese media. However, bowed under heavy pressure from Washington, Seoul notified China earlier this week that it canceled its participation. Regardless of the cancellation of the aerobatic team participation, ten Korean aerospace companies are exhibiting at the Chinese show.
The South Korean air force’s Black Eagles team, made up of eight T-50 light combat aircraft, was expected to be one of the star attractions at the 10th China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai. “The decision was agreed between the US and South Korea because the T-50 jets include core US technologies and so are subject to regulations regarding arms export and international arms trade,” said an anonymous defense official in Seoul.
A project funded by the South Korean government, the supersonic fighter T-50 jet is assembled by Korea Aerospace Industries, a local military aircraft and civilian airframe parts maker. It uses wings, in addition to flight control and avionics equipment, made by Lockheed Martin Corp. The reason for the cancellation was apparently prevention of ‘technology leakage’.
Commemorating the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese PLA Air Force, three aerobatic teams are participating at the airshow include the “August 1” Aerobatics Team of the Chinese PLA Air Force flying the J-10 fighter jets, the Knight Aerobatic Team of the Russian Air Force, flying Su-27s and the Al Fursan Team of the United Arab Emirates Air Force flying seven Aermacchi MB-339A jet trainers.
Major performers will also include the Airbus A380, the Chinese built ARJ21-700 regional jet and the Bell 407GX – all will perform demonstration flights.
China will be displaying its latest stealth fighter jet – J-31 (it is not yet confirmed is it will participate in flight displays or at the static line). The newest military transport, Xian Y-20 has also arrived at Zhuhai and will take part at the airshow.
Russia is sending the Sukhoi Su-35S, which will be displayed in flight and on the static park. Russia is negotiating the sale of 24 such fighters to China, as part of an arms transfer package worth over two billion US$. The negotiations that began in 2010 have got closer recently, as the two countries are brought together facing a growing pressure from the U.S. in the Pacific.
The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), one of the orgenizers of the air show, has prepared the military and civilian exhibition zones highlighting military aircraft, civilian aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), general aviation aircraft, engines and airborne systems. The AVIC will send more than 30 aircraft to the show. Other participants are taking the opportunity to show military audience other military hardware including tanks, APCs, air defense systems, missiles and robotics.
More than a hundred foreign delegates will attend this year’s show, which will feature more than 130 aircraft and 700 exhibitors from 41 countries and regions including China, the US, UK, Canada, Russia and France. The expo is expected to draw about 130,000 military and arms industry professionals from around the world, a rise of 18% from the previous year. About 2,000 reporters from more than 200 international media outlets are expected to be covering the event.