China is only a recent player in the field of exporting anti-aircraft systems, but it is establishing itself on more and more markets, including in Europe. Therefore the Chinese HQ-9, a system comparable to the Russian S-300, was initially selected by Ankara in 2015, offering, according to the Turkish authorities, a performance-price ratio much higher than that of Russian and Western systems. If, under pressure from its NATO allies, Turkey finally canceled this order, to finally turn to the Russian S-400, which had far worse consequences for Ankara, Beijing has recorded in recent years other success, imposing itself mainly in its sphere of influence but also in countries traditionally won over to Russian systems. Thus, the HQ-9 system has been ordered by Algeria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and even recently Morocco, while the HQ-22 has been exported to Myanmar, Thailand, Turkmenistan as well as to Serbia.
It is precisely to this last customer that Beijing has just sent, through an impressive deployment of its new Y-20 military jumbo jets, the batteries ordered in 2020 by Belgrade, as well as MALE CH-92 drones. A total of 6 Y-20 transport planes carried out a 2-day airlift via Baku in Azerbaijan and Ankara in Turkey, to transport the systems to Serbia, constituting a demonstration of the new capabilities of the air forces of the People's Liberation Army, and its national apparatus. For Belgrade, a traditional partner of the Russian defense industry, this order meant not only to mark its rapprochement with Beijing, but also to avoid the consequences of American sanctions in the event of the purchase of Russian S-400s in the face of CAATSA legislation, while the country is a candidate for entry into the European Union.
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