Helicopters from four armed forces hover above a viewing platform during the opening ceremony of the International Army Games in Korla on northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region on July 29, 2018. Photo: Xinhua

The 2018 Army Games is on and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which is contesting a number of categories and events, is also taking aim at selling its drones, armored vehicles and tanks to its rivals at the military event.

On Sunday, representatives from the PLA and the militaries of Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Iran kick-started the event dubbed the “Army Olympics” at a military camp in Korla in northwestern China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Running until August 11, the Army Olympics is part of the bigger International Army Games hosted by Russia this year.

Contests being held in Xinjiang include mock combat between infantry fighting vehicle crews and simulated air defense missile operations, with 358 servicemen from the various countries taking part, according to the PLA Daily.

The PLA deployed tanks, rocket launchers and Z-9 and WZ-10 armed helicopters and a massive live firing exercise was held during Sunday’s opening ceremony. A large chunk of airspace was temporarily cordoned off.

The games’ seaborne assault contest, hosted by the PLA Navy, was also launched on the same day in the coastal city of Quanzhou in southeastern Fujian province, and it was reported that all foreign contestants would use China-made equipment for amphibious warfare.

The PLA’s arms sales units and state-owned arms dealer China Poly Group had high hopes of making sales as all foreign participants apart from Russians will use, among other things, the China-made Type 86A, a reverse engineered version of the Russian BMP-1 armored personnel carrier.

Most participants are potential buyers of Chinese and Russian weapons. The games may spawn opportunities when soldiers and military experts from East Europe and Central Asia trial China-made equipment and weapons in combat-like scenarios and weigh the quality and effectiveness of products offered at a fraction of the price of similar equipment from the US and Europe, said a report in the Global Times.

Xinhua also noted the PLA had invited all the foreign military officials to a symposium in Beijing after the games where Chinese defense contractors would showcase their latest products.

This year China has sent a massive team to Russia for the competitions and the Chinese delegation took H-6K bombers, J-10A fighters and Type 96B assault tanks.

Russian news agency TASS reported the Chinese team won the tank biathlon – a competition between tank crews – and ranked first in its group on the opening day in Russia.

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