China expanding African arms sales

Hong Kong, China — Increasing quantities of China-made military equipment have been finding their way to Africa, traded for oil, mineral resources and even fishing rights. Zambia has used its copper resources to pay China in a number of military deals, for instance, and Kenya has been negotiating with China to trade fishing rights for arms.
Among the most popular Chinese military exports to Africa are the J-7, K-8 and Y-12 aircraft, which are relatively inexpensive and easy to operate. China sees those countries already armed with the K-8 and J-7 aircraft as potential customers for its new FC-1 fighters.

Sources from the Russian and South African military industries say they are now keeping an eye on China’s FC-1 fighter sales. The Russian military believes the FC-1 is inferior to its MiG-29 SMT and Su-30 MKA. But the Russians cannot match China’s deal-making ability, as the Chinese are accepting oil and minerals in lieu of cash to pay for their equipment.

A delegation from the Nigerian air force told the author at the Cape Town Air Show in South Africa last September that their country was negotiating with China to purchase K-8 trainer aircraft. The country imported Chinese J-7 fighters in 2006, and has expressed an interest in the FC-1.

Zimbabwe’s air force delegation told the author that they were negotiating the purchase of one squadron of FC-1 fighters from China. Zimbabwe is already equipped with K-8 trainers and J-7 fighters. In August last year one Zimbabwean K-8 trainer crashed due to pilot error, the air force representative admitted.

The current problem lies in how Zimbabwe will be able to pay for the purchase of FC-1 fighters. A source from the South African military industry says that China is interested in Zimbabwe’s zinc and aluminum mines. continue

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