“When you come and see these aircraft you relate them to what you have seen before. The K-8 is a Hawk, the J-10 a Eurofighter, the L-15 an Aermacchi M-346,” said an officer with an African air force delegation, asking not to be identified.
“That is why some people don’t want to send their planes here. You come back in five years and it’s called a J-something.”
Organisers said a record 650 companies from 38 countries showed up to present exhibits at the ninth Zhuhai show.
A few yards and a Chinese wall separate the military part of the show and Western aerospace suppliers striking deals with China’s fledgling civil aerospace industry.
This week’s flying displays included a surprise debut of the Z-10 months after U.S. company United Technologies admitted selling software that helped Beijing develop its first modern military attack helicopter.
“China’s aviation industry is turning out reasonably decent products,” said Pike in a telephone interview. “They are not there yet and they have a long way to go. But they are open for business.”