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2014-11-15 Sat 17:28
Zhuhai's Air Show has always been a venue for surprises, usually first-time showings of advanced Chinese military hardware.
China's pathologically secretive defense industry normally shows nothing official of its weapons programs to anyone, which makes the biennial Zhuhai expo the only chance to see what its weapons makers have been up to.
Much has been written in the past few years about China's defense sector developing increasingly more capable weapons systems that approach the capability of their U.S. and European analogues.
Some Chinese weapons, such as a full range of anti-ship and air-to-surface missiles, seem to show that its military -- the People's Liberation Army (PLA) -- is equipped to challenge U.S. Navy carrier battle groups and potentially deny the U.S. the ability to operate in certain areas of the Pacific. But questions remain about how battle-ready the PLA is and whether it can function in a modern, network-centric warfare environment.