Chinese missiles, tanks and drones find foreign buyers
By Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer
In line with its increasingly sophisticated domestic arsenal, China’s arms exports have become much more technically competitive in the last 10 years; the 2015 U.S. Defense Department’s Annual Report on the PLA even stated that China’s ground systems in particular are globally competitive or nearly globally competitive. With selling points of low cost and affordable service, lack of geopolitical strings and upgrade packages, China has become the world’s third largest arms exporter behind the US and Russia. With a series of recent contracting wins against Russian firms, it looks to expand its market share.
In April 2016, Turkmen state TV showed footage of the Turkmen military firing its new FD-2000 long-range surface to air missile (SAM) during military maneuvers. The FD-2000, the export version of the HQ-9, is distinguished from its domestic sibling by its hexagonal missile canisters. The latest FD-2000 likely has similar performance to the HQ-9’s 200km range and 30km flight ceiling, with capability against both aircraft and ballistic missiles. Footage of the same exercise also showed that Turkmenistan has the medium-ranged HQ-12 SAM as well.
While Turkmenistan’s military arsenal is still largely Soviet-era Russian weaponry, the major purchase of strategic Chinese air defense missiles despite the ubiquitous availability of similar Russian systems suggests that Turkmenistan is looking to diversify its defense purchases. Such a move could be driven by unease over Russian activities in Ukraine, as well as China becoming the largest customer of Turkmen natural gas. China’s increased economic clout in Central Asia is clearly giving it the ability to smooth over negative Russian reactions to a similar increase in Chinese security clout. Read more