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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Out in Force at China Show

ReutersA worker cleaning a Russian military aircraft booth in Zhuhai on Monday.
ZHUHAI, China -- Russia's aerospace companies were out in force as the world's aircraft makers gathered Monday for China's biggest air show, looking to the booming Chinese market to drive sales as their industry's growth slows elsewhere.

Boeing, Airbus and other companies from 18 countries were displaying aircraft, engines and other equipment at the five-day exhibition, which starts Tuesday in this southern Chinese boomtown near Hong Kong.

Russian companies were displaying warplanes and civilian aircraft, as well as missiles and military electronics, reflecting China's status as Moscow's leading arms export market and Russian ambitions to expand in commercial aviation.

Russian companies were showing civilian cargo and passenger planes and a giant military transport, while Boeing and Airbus displayed only scale models of their planes, with no full-size aircraft.

A five-member Russian military aerobatics team flying supersonic Su-27 fighters was scheduled to perform.

China is expected to be the fastest-growing market for commercial aircraft over the next two decades. Chicago-based Boeing said last week that it expected carriers to purchase 2,900 new planes worth $280 billion over that period.

Held every two years, the Zhuhai show is a platform for newcomers looking for a foothold in China's aircraft market and for its own fledging industry to show off its products.

Airbus, struggling with costly delays on its superjumbo A380, got a boost last week when China signed a deal to buy 150 A320 planes. At the same time, Toulouse, France-based Airbus signed agreements to open a final assembly line in China, its first outside Europe.

In Zhuhai, Airbus was displaying a 2.5-meter-long model of the A380.

No Western makers of military aircraft took part at Zhuhai, apparently due to U.S. and European weapons embargoes imposed on Beijing after its crackdown in 1989 on pro-democracy activists.

The Russian pavilion included booths for makers of Sukhoi and MiG fighter jets, anti-ship missiles, radar and military avionics, as well as Tupolev and Ilyushin passenger and cargo planes.

China accounted for 45 percent of Moscow's $6 billion in arms exports last year as Beijing upgraded its arsenal with Russian fighter jets, submarines and other high-tech weaponry, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a think tank.

But despite Russia's prominent displays in Zhuhai, there was no indication that Mosow would be showing its most advanced aircraft, such as the Sukhoi-33 and Sukhoi-35 fighter jets. Russian military officials reportedly are uneasy about selling their best technology to China.