FPI / April 13, 2022
By Richard Fisher
China has undertaken its first aerial power projection demonstration into Europe, using six of its largest indigenous Peoples Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) military transport aircraft to deliver an air defense system to Serbia on April 9, 2022.
By so doing, the PLA demonstrated China’s potential to supply military material to its military partner Russia in a desperate war in Ukraine.
On April 8, Internet sleuths using aircraft tracking software discovered that six Xian Aircraft Corporation Y-20 heavy transport aircraft had departed China toward Europe.
China has never before sent this many Y-20s on a foreign mission, much less all the way to Europe.
It was soon concluded that the six Y-20s were on their way to deliver a China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) FK-3, known as the HQ-22 air defense missile system, which Serbia had started to purchase in 2019. Serbia has also purchased CASIC CH-2 unmanned aerial combat vehicles (UCAVs).
The FK-3 is the export version of the HQ-22, has a 150km range and can simultaneously engage up to six targets and is likely much less expensive than the comparable Russian S-300 and U.S. Patriot systems.
Though Serbia was accused of multiple and serious war crimes for its conduct in the Kosovo War of the late 1990s and has long been close politically and militarily to Russia, it began negotiations to join the European Union in 2009 and could become a formal member by 2025.
FPI, Free Press International