Procurement: Chinese Thieves Threaten French Sales


September 18, 2007: Pakistan is trying to buy radar and missile systems from France, for its new JF-17 fighter. This aircraft is a joint effort between Pakistan and China, with most of the work being done in China. But the effort to buy missiles from MBDA and radars from Thales raised howls of protest from Taiwan, the United States and, interestingly, France. The chief complaint was the tendency of Pakistan to share the details of foreign military equipment with its chief supplier, China. The Chinese, in turn, are notorious for stealing foreign military technology at every opportunity. Now this has not stopped other French firms from selling military equipment to Pakistan. But in those other cases, the tech was not as high, nor the potential damage so great. But there are other problems. Taiwan uses some of the tech Pakistan is seeking, and does not want China to, in effect, get a better idea of what the Taiwanese air force is capable of. The United States is still smarting from all the F-16 secrets China obtained via Pakistan (apparently including the shipment of a Pakistani F-16 to China.) China has been caught with many other bits of American military tech. Critics in France see China as a potential competitor, offering cheaper versions of stolen and copied French technology. That said, the sale may go forward anyway, perhaps using special downgraded "export versions" of the gear. This was a technique Russia used for a long time.


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