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Big Week for China Watchers

J-31 stealth fighter (Photo: Xinhuanet Photo/Chinanews.com)

This week will be a big one for China watchers as the People's Liberation Army holds a massive parade on Thursday in Beijing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Japanese surrender during World War II.

The parade comes the same week Taiwan released its a report warning that China will declare an Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, in the South China Sea after it finishes building military facilities on the Spratly Islands, according to the aviation blog Alert 5.

The PLA plans to showcase its increasingly capable weaponry, from guns and missiles to tanks and fighter jets. An estimated 12,000 troops, between 100 and 200 aircraft, and some 500 pieces of equipment are expected to participate in the event, according to CNN.

Here's what we'll be watching for:

Fighter Jets

The event may include appearances by China's fifth-generation stealth aircraft, including the Chengdu J-20 twin-engine fighter, Shenyang J-31 twin-engine multi-role attack aircraft and the J-18 jump-jet. The J-20 is a potential long-range asset that reportedly lifted designs from the F-22 and is slated to enter service in 2018. The J-31 is a multi-role aircraft designed in part for exports and is expected to enter service around the same time or 2019. The J-18 is a vertical takeoff and landing variant designed for use aboard aircraft carriers.

Ballistic Missiles

The parade may mark the first-ever public showing of a slew of ballistic missiles, including the Dong Feng (DF)-15B short-range ballistic missile, DF-16 and DF-21C medium-range ballistic missiles, DF-26 intermediate range ballistic missile, DF-31A and warhead section of the DF-5B intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the DF-10 land-attack cruise missile, according to Jane's. Just this month, reports surfaced that the PLA was developing the liquid-fueled DF-5B to have one of the farthest ranges of any of the DF-family of missiles to strike targets anywhere on Earth.

Sub Hunters

With China engaged in territorial disputes with Japan and Taiwan, the role of maritime surveillance aircraft in the Asia-Pacific region are increasingly important. The U.S. is transitioning from the P-3 Orion made by Lockheed Martin Corp. to the P-8 Poseidon made by Boeing Co. Japan has been marketing to international customers its P-1 maritime patrol aircraft made by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. Watch for China to show off its Shaanxi Y-8/Y-9 anti-submarine warfare plane, based on the Soviet-era four-engine prop plane Antonov An-12.

What equipment will you be on the lookout for? Tell us what you think.

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