Getting a Chinese defense company at an exhibition would be awkward, since they were not prepared to give any information, not even to customers, writes defense analyst Wendell Minnick at Defense News. At the latest Singapore Airshow they improved, but only slightly.
There was a time not long ago when Chinese defense companies exhibiting at international defense shows would provide no information about their products to journalists, or for that matter, even customers.
A model of a new fighter aircraft or an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on display would come with no brochure and no placard indicating even the name. It was a curious experience to ask about a model of a new weapon system only to get shrugs from Chinese representatives who appeared just as baffled by its appearance at the airshow as the journalist. Journalists would take a picture and move on, assuming that boxes of brochures in the back room of the booth would be reshipped back to China unopened.
It was a public relations disaster for Chinese defense companies to spend enormous amounts of money for booths/chalets and allow for no dialogue about their products. It was a mystery most likely explained by China’s history of opaque behavior and the fear of losing face.
This week’s Singapore Airshow was a little different. The China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corp. (CATIC) displayed the supersonic Hongdu-built L-15 Falcon attack/fighter/trainer (AFT) aircraft armed with new weapon systems not seen outfitted on the Falcon before. It even included a brochure, if you asked nicely, but even then badgering often came into play.
Are you interested in more stories by Wendell Minnick? Check out hist list.