Procurement: Russia Helps China Screw Russia

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February12, 2007: Russia recently announced that none of the 500 Russian RD-93 jet engines China is buying could be exported to a foreign country. This is a problem, as China needs those engines for the 150 JF17 fighters it is building for Pakistan. What makes this particularly nasty is that Pakistan has invested $150 million in the development of the JF17. Pakistan thought Russia would give China permission to export the RD93 equipped aircraft. After all, China was such a large customer for RD93 engines (originally designed for the MiG-29), and those 500 RD93 engines are worth $1.25 billion. But apparently India played hardball, and demanded that the Russians forbid the export of the RD93s from China to Pakistan. India is a major customer for Russian weapons, including cooperative development deals. China is a big customer for Russian weapons as well, but India buys more stuff, and is seen as less of a future threat to Russia than China.

But it gets more interesting. China has been developing a similar (apparently identical) engine to the RD93, the WS-13. Actually, this effort is being aided by Russia, which is selling China technology needed for the manufacture of key engine components. Russia isn't happy about this, because they don't want competition in the low cost jet engine market. Then again, China has a history of stealing technology it cannot buy, so the Russians are making the best of a bad situation. China says the WS-13 is nearly ready for service. Maybe, maybe not. Building high performance military jet engines is difficult, and China has had problems mastering this kind of stuff. Not that they will not eventually acquire the skills, but if they don't, they could just ship RD93 equipped JF17s to Pakistan and say that the aircraft are using WS-13s. Would Russia make a big stink about this? Probably not. China and Russia have financial incentives to lie together, and all India can do is complain about what might be (as far as they know) a Chinese deception. As the fictional Don Corleone so factually put it, "it's business."


 


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