Avic Defense To Expand Civil Work

This article first appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.

BEIJING -- Chinese fighter builder Avic Defense aims to build a large business jet as part of its strategy of exploiting military technology for its civilian sidelines.

Avic Defense also will build up an aircraft maintenance operation catering for airline customers, company president Wang Yawei tells Aviation Week.

Wang emphasizes that the dominant business of Avic Defense will continue to be the supply of weapons to the Chinese armed forces. The company will pursue military exports, but the development of military products will be aimed mainly at local requirements.

In an interview, Wang did not elaborate on domestic weapons programs. Such announcements are reserved for generals, admirals and ministers.

Avic Defense already has substantial civil work, including center fuselages for the Bombardier C Series regional jet, rudders for Boeing 787s and parts for Airbus aircraft. Moreover, it is wholly responsible for building the Cessna 162 Skycatcher light sport aircraft.

The development plan for the defense unit has been drawn up by parent company Avic, Wang says. The efforts purposefully imitate France's Dassault Aviation.

"As part of the development plan, Avic wants Avic Defense to exploit its defense resources to develop a high-end business aircraft, just as Dassault does," the executive says. "Dassault is a very good fighter builder, and it makes very good business aircraft."

Wang's description of the proposed business jet as a high-end product and his reference to Dassault suggests that he is thinking of a large-cabin, long-range aircraft.

He rules out simply acting as a supplier for a separate business jet program proposed by sibling Avic General Aircraft. Avic Defense will build its own aircraft, he says. Avic General Aircraft has said its jet would be in the class of the Bombardier Challenger 850.

Wang also has clarified Avic Defense's plans to develop an aircraft-support business. When the idea was raised earlier this year, it seemed that it might be restricted to military products, since the Chinese air force and navy would presumably be unwilling to allow foreign airline executives to enter sites that maintain Chinese combat aircraft.

But Avic Defense does plan to pursue airline customers, Wang says. He defines the proposed business as after-sales service and maintenance, including whole-life service.

Read the rest of this story, watch as the tanker delays begin anew, see why it's smart to invest in defense and see Iraqi air defense in action from our friends at Aviation Week, exclusively on Military.com.

-- Christian

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