China’s efforts of becoming a global superpower have led it to expand its military as well. Considerable investments have been made in military tech, first overseas military base, and a more capable Navy than ever, China’s interest in becoming a military superpower is speaking for itself.
Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) turns towards other countries to get inspiration for its military. China tends to skip expensive and time taking R&D and tries to buy or steal foreign military technology. Here are a few of them.
Chengdu J-10 & US F-16
The USA and Isreal partnership in the 1980s resulted in the creation of F-16, but due to increase in cost, US pulled out of this deal. American officials later discovered that Isreal had sold the development plans to China. The Chinese F-16, aka J-10, gave China an upgrade to its 1960s era fighters squad.
Shenyang J-11/16 & Russian Sukhoi Su-27
The fall of USSR in 1989 came out to be great for Chinese military as they took benefit of Russia’s crumbling economy and bought the designs for Su-27. China has developed and improved the aircraft to a great extent under the name J-11. In 2000, Russia sold China some advancements they had made in their Su-27 and China incorporated them in their J-16.
Shenyang J-15 & Russian Sukhoi Su-33
J-15 serves China as their carrier-based aircraft. The plane is originally a copy of Russian Su-33. Russia denied selling the designs of Su-33, so China approached Ukraine and bought a prototype dubbed T-10K-3. China has since made a lot of improvements.
CASC Caihong-4 and US MQ-9 Reaper
Even though, there is no evidence available for America’s claim that Chinese CH-4 is a copy of American MQ-9 Reaper. Despite being modeled after the Reaper, China promptly set off to further improve the model and created CH-5 which has more capabilities than its predecessor.
FC-1 Xiaolong & Soviet MiG-21
China did not stop at Russian Sukhoi design; It also purchased plans for MiG-21. The Chinese MiG is named J-7. Thanks to China’s access to F-16 and MiG-21, with a joint venture with Pakistan, China created JF-17. This plane continues to fly today and can compete with latest aircrafts decades after its creation.
Chengdu J-20 & US F-22 Raptor
China’s first fifth-generation aircraft is a direct copy of American F-22 Raptor. It seems that Chinese J-20 is limited in stealth technology by only radar absorbent coating because China lacks an extensive background in stealth technology.
Shenyang J-31 & US F-35
J-31 is a project still under development and is said to be better than the aircraft it is copied from, The F-35. Again China is limited by its weak stealth technology but still has managed to offer a larger payload capacity.