Russia sends record team to air show

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 November, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 November, 2000, 12:00am

Russia has sent the largest delegation ever to the Zhuhai air show, which opens on Monday, indicating its eagerness to cash in on China's attempt to bolster its military strength.

An air show official said Russia responded to the organiser's invitation enthusiastically, and volunteered to send advanced weapons and military aircraft seldom exhibited overseas.

A highlight of the show will be the first overseas display of Russia's latest attack helicopter, the KA50 - described by military experts as a threat to its US counterpart.

The staff said organisers had to turn down offers from Russia to exhibit other advanced weaponry because of fears over a lack of facilities to maintain the items.

Russian representatives, who were busy setting up booths at the exhibition halls yesterday, said they were optimistic about the prospect of business this year. But they declined to comment on whether cross-strait tension would boost their prospects. 'We think the business will be good. Of course we don't want any war between China and Taiwan,' a representative said.

Other Russian aircraft, including fighter jets and a refuelling plane will also be in the show. Since the escalation of tension across the strait, Beijing has acquired weapons, aircraft, and warships from former Soviet countries.

China is known to be interested in Russia's GLONASS global satellite positioning system and is believed to be seeking to buy either the satellites that make up the system or ground stations that can increase the system's capabilities.

Unlike the previous two air shows in Zhuhai, only the final four days are open to the public. The first three days are reserved for business representatives. Organisers hope the new measures will boost sales.

In the show, China will also display new military products developed domestically - including an unmanned helicopter capable of performing intelligence tasks. Sponsored by the PLA General Department, the helicopter was developed by a research institute in Nanjing. It can fly for four hours and be controlled remotely from 150km.

A revised version of the portable anti-aircraft missiles said to have been used in the large military drill last month will also be displayed.

The show will last for a week from Monday. National People's Congress Chairman Li Peng and Vice-Premier Wu Bangguo are expected to attend the opening ceremony on Monday.