- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 27, 2010

BEIJING | China revealed during a recent defense industry show that its defense electronics are rapidly advancing to First World military standards.

The communist regime’s defense electronics prowess was on display at the recent China Defense Electronics Exposition (CIDEX) in Beijing from May 12 to 14.

“The type of components I am seeing in China are not readily available anywhere — except maybe in the U.S.,” said a Ukrainian defense electronics specialist who attended the show.

“If I go to a European supplier looking for similar products, they will probably tell me that they are just not in series production yet — maybe in six months or more they might be,” he said.

“The best I might hope for is to be given one or two ‘working models’ that I could only use for development and design work, but nothing I could use to turn out a final, manufactured product for a customer,” the Ukrainian specialist said. “But here in China, I can buy as many of these as I need — and usually at a lower price.”

China is well-known as a powerhouse production center for some of the latest in American-designed electronic innovation. Apple’s iPhone is made in China, and production of such foreign goods has led some to assume that Chinese industry is limited to building others’ products and unable to develop comparable technological marvels of its own.

An example is the recently pirated Chinese copy of the iPhone — a poorly designed gadget that costs the equivalent of $240, does not really work and eventually gives those trying to use it the urge to throw it out.

The knockoffs market reinforced the misconception that all the Chinese can produce is junk electronics and led some U.S. analysts to dismiss China’s rapid military buildup as little more than a junkyard army unable to compete with modern militaries.

But Chinese defense technology on display at CIDEX appears to be anything but junk, and Beijing shows few limits on the resources devoted to its defense-industrial sector.

Despite the absence of several traditional exhibitors this year, CIDEX 2010 was three times as large as the last show in 2008.

Additionally, the number of high-tech firms from regional industrial cities such as Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, is growing and advertising “one-stop shopping” for weapons builders.

One Shenzhen-based firm presented a “soldier of the future,” portable, high-speed, secure video-transmission network. The system allows an infantryman in the field to send digitally transmitted images of the battlefield in real time to a regional command center or intelligence headquarters unit.

China also is advancing with its own precision-guided munitions (PGM), like the Boeing Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), which was long a weapon that provided the U.S. military with a key advantage over almost all other nations.

The U.S. guided bombs were a rude awakening of advanced American weapons capabilities. Generals in China and Russia first watched “smart” bombs videotaped entering air shafts and other difficult-to-hit targets on cable-television broadcasts during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Russia’s relatively advanced defense sector was unable at the time to build those types or numbers of smart bombs and other PGM that are integral to modern warfare.

In Beijing, however, the micro-electro-mechanical sytems (MEMS) technology needed for most modern-day precision weapons already exists in China, developed by Kotel Micro Technique Co. Ltd. The Shanxi province-based firm manufactures almost all of the components necessary to produce the Chinese equivalent of a Boeing JDAM-type kit.

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