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Zhuhai - China Airshow

Where? Zhuhai, Guangdong, PR China
When? 16-21/11/2010

The 8th edition of the Airshow China held at the Zhuhai airport was announced this year with a strong participation of the China Air Force, the PLAAF (People's Liberation Army - Air Force). Preparations were thus made to visit this event with the hope to catch a glimpse of some hardware of this still very secret Air Force. The first announcement of the flying program was unfortunately glooming, but as each aircraft there would be a rare item I was really looking forward to this event.

After spending three days at the show - and thus avoiding the crowded public days from Friday to Saturday - it can be said that Airshow China was an event mainly focusing on the achievements of the Chinese Aviation Industry.

The three halls mainly focused on the different Chinese aviation companies and the flying display also consisted to the biggest part of Chinese aircraft. Unfortunately the PLAAF only played a minor part there and showed of (only) five aircraft on the ground: JH-7 Leopard, J-8 Finback, the H-6 bomber (which is a modified Tu-16), KJ-200 (and AWACS-version of the Y-8 aircraft) and the ZA-9 armed attack helicopter. For the enthusiasts however it made up for the highlight of the flying program with their Chengdu JJ-5 and Shanyang J-6 jets and the propeller-powered Nanchang CJ-5 - these aircraft are license versions of the Russian twin-seat MiG-17, MiG-19 and Yak-18, and appear to be still in service in the PLAAF, even if only in small numbers nowadays. A good addition was furthermore the Z-8 helicopter (more or less a Super Frelon) that brought up a parachute team to do some performances.

Without doubt being the highlight was the "1st August" Demonstration Team: the PLAAF's has recently been re-equipping the team with six of the new Chengdu J-10 fighters and it performed its first full public display at Zhuhai. The display included several aerobatic manoeuvres as a 6-ship as well as solo demonstrations using smoke and flares. Most obviously the local crowed was most enthusiastic about this performance and it has to be said that this team already flies on a very high level with precise formations, timings as well as a good choreography to allow for always having a jet with visual contact for the crowd.

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