Sunday, May 10, 2009

China moves on from copying designer clothes to fighter jets

You thought China stopped at copying consumer products -

Russia Admits China Illegally Copied Its Fighter
By Wendell Minnick, Published: 13 Feb 12:29 EST (17:29 GMT), BANGALORE, India

After years of denial, a Russian defense official conceded that China
had produced its own "fake" version of the Su-27SK fighter jet in
violation of intellectual property agreements. "We are in discussions
with China on this issue," said Mikhail Pogosyan, first vice president on
program coordination, Russian Aircraft Corp., during a press conference
here at the Aero India trade show.

In 1995, China secured a production license to build 200 Su-27SKs, dubbed
J-11A, for $2.5 billion for the Shenyang Aircraft Corp. The deal required
the aircraft to be outfitted with Russian avionics, radars and engines.
Russia cancelled the arrangement at 95 aircraft in 2006 after it discovered
that China was developing an indigenous version, J-11B, with Chinese
avionics and systems.

China produced six J-11B fighters for testing, but despite efforts to
produce a suitable replacement for the Russian engine, the new fighter
was outfitted with the same AL-31F, said Andrei Chang, a China military
specialist at the Kanwa Defense Center. One J-11A was outfitted with the
indigenously-built WS10A Tai Hang turbofan engine, but the J-11Bs are still
using Russian AL-31Fs due to technical difficulties, Chang said.

Pogosyan and Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov traveled to Beijing
in December to attend the 13th session of a Chinese-Russian joint commission
on military and technical cooperation and apply pressure to Chinese
officials. Ultimately, China agreed to protect intellectual property rights
and stop illegally copying Russian military equipment.

"I think this was a big step to make this issue more transparent and more
precise in our future discussions," said Pogosyan, who also serves as the
general director of Sukhoi.

Russia fears that China would mass-produce cheaper export versions of the
Su-27 for the international market, and China feared that Russia would
cancel future orders for advanced arms, such as the Su-33 combat jet for
China's aircraft carrier program, Chang said. Chinese violations of the
end-user agreement would be particularly upsetting to Russia's long-time
strategic partner India, if Pakistan buys the Chinese-built Su-27 version.

However, Pogosyan downplayed the quality of the Chinese effort, saying a
copy of a copy would not be a good aircraft. "If we speak about the copy
of the airplanes, I think that in this case, the original will always be
better than a slightly modified copy," he said. "The original made by the
designer who developed the product is always better, and it is a better
start for a new program with the original designer and developer than
making a fake copy."

He said buying copies makes it difficult to overcome problems occurring
during the lifetime of the aircraft, while the original developer knows from
experience how to deal with these issues.

Chang does not believe China will honor the intellectual property agreement,
or any agreement with Russia, and will continue to develop the J-11B as a
totally indigenous aircraft. However, China will move cautiously until it
secures deals for the Su-33 carrier-based fighter. China is beginning to
build its first aircraft carrier and needs Russian technology and
experience, Chang said.


Anonymous said...

It is easy to claim fake or cheat. but with a top-end range of Su-27SK, surely one required a kind of ingenuity and brain in order to "reverse engineered" that kind of stuff.
The West had similar complaint in respect of Japanese cars vis-a-vis the Western model during the 60's. Certainly one cannot say that Lexus and Toyota is a "fake" or "cheat" from their Western model after 40 years.

Kelly W. said...

good point with Lexus. Japan, however, never went to brazenly copy the world's consumer products, and worse- to fake baby formula, pet food and other vital foods.