The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) is designated very high risk as China’s primary supplier of military aircraft.
AVIC is a state-owned defence conglomerate established in 2008 that focuses on providing aerospace products for military and civilian customers.https://web.archive.org/web/20190731062547/http://m.avic.com/gxwm/jqgk/index.shtml AVIC’s main product lines include a variety of aircraft for freight, commercial and military aviation along with other more specialised products such as printed circuit boards, liquid crystal displays and automotive parts, according to Bloomberg.https://www.bloomberg.com/profile/company/CAICPZ:CH AVIC also provides services to the aviation sector through flight testing, engineering, logistics and asset management.https://web.archive.org/web/20190731064736/http:/enm.avic.com/aboutus/overview/index.shtml
The conglomerate has over 400,000 employees and has a controlling share in around 200 companies.https://centreforaviation.com/data/profiles/suppliers/aviation-industry-corporation-of-china-avic AVIC has over 25 subsidiaries listed on its website.https://web.archive.org/web/20191002055700/http://www.avic.com/en/aboutus/listedsubsidiaries/index.shtml
AVIC is the PLA Air Force’s largest supplier of military aircraft, producing fighter jets, strike aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and surveillance aircraft.https://web.archive.org/web/20190731062547/http:/m.avic.com/gxwm/jqgk/index.shtml Along with its core work on military aircraft, AVIC also produces surface-to-air, air-to-surface and air-to-air missiles.https://web.archive.org/web/20190731062547/http://m.avic.com/gxwm/jqgk/index.shtml ; https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/china/avic.htm Its headline projects include the J-10 and the J-11 fighter aircraft.https://web.archive.org/web/20190731062547/http:/m.avic.com/gxwm/jqgk/index.shtml AVIC’s subsidiary, the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, was responsible for delivery of the J-15 fighter.https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2153803/china-working-new-fighter-jet-aircraft-carriers-replace Another subsidiary of AVIC, the Chengdu Aerospace Corporation, developed the PLA-AF’s J-20 stealth fighter jet.https://thediplomat.com/2018/03/chief-engineer-of-chinas-alleged-stealth-fighter-vows-new-capabilities-for-aircraft/
Economic espionage and misconduct
With a history of being unable to develop indigenous technology reliably and at scale, AVIC and its subsidiaries have relied on Russian companies to provide expertise and supplies.
Numerous analysts have noted that the J-11 multirole fighter jet developed by AVIC’s subsidiary the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation bears a striking similarity to Sukhoi’s Su-27 from Russia.https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/aviation/g23303922/china-copycat-air-force/ Beginning in 1992,https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704679204575646472655698844 China formed part of Russia’s Su-27 program and eventually procured a total of 78 combat aircraft.https://nationalinterest.org/feature/china-stole-fighter-russia%E2%80%94-its-coming-the-south-china-sea-17087 However, China decided to cease further procurement of the Su-27 and Russia allowed for China’s domestic assembly of the aircraft in 1996.https://fas.org/nuke/guide/china/aircraft/j-11.htm Though Russia maintained control over the production of the Su-27’s engines, China had reportedly reverse-engineered the aircraft in 2007 to form the J-11.https://nationalinterest.org/feature/china-stole-fighter-russia%E2%80%94-its-coming-the-south-china-sea-17087
AVIC, in spite of its misconduct, has expressed a desire to procure Sukhoi’s Saturn/Lyulka 117S engine that powers the Su-35 fighter jet for its FC-31 multirole stealth fighter which Beijing hopes to export overseas.https://www.janes.com/article/45625/airshow-china-2014-avic-unveils-fc-31-export-fighter-concept Predictably, Janes Defence Weekly has reported that ‘Russian officials remain suspicious over any engine deals with China as a potential competitor in the international combat aircraft market, fearing reverse-engineering of its systems.’https://www.janes.com/article/45625/airshow-china-2014-avic-unveils-fc-31-export-fighter-concept This indicates Beijing’s continued reliance on Russian expertise for its development of combat aircraft, which suggests that AVIC may continue to engage in illicit technology transfers with Russian and other foreign companies into the future.
Sino-Russian collaboration on weapons procurement also extends to other air platforms such as helicopters. In May 2015, AVIC signed a framework agreement for the joint development of an Advanced Heavy Lift (AHL) helicopter with both Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping in attendance.https://web.archive.org/web/20191002030830/http://www.russianhelicopters.aero/en/press/news/AHL_framework_agreement/ Following this, AVIC produced a prototype of an AHL helicopter in collaboration with Russia in November 2019.https://web.archive.org/web/20190427090643/https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/defense/2018-11-17/avic-provides-first-glimpse-sino-russian-heavy-lifter In contrast to the Su-27 program, AVIC is the driving force behind the project while Russian companies are relegated to being mere vendors and contractors.https://web.archive.org/web/20190427090643/https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/defense/2018-11-17/avic-provides-first-glimpse-sino-russian-heavy-lifter This demonstrates that Russia continues to co-operate with China on the development of armaments despite numerous cases of illicit technology transfer.
Noteworthy international collaborations
AVIC has a long history of Sino-Russian defence co-operation and is a regular attendee at international arms expositions. In August 2018, AVIC attended the Russia International Military Technology Forum at the Patriot Expocenter in Moscow.https://web.archive.org/web/20190801035558/http:/enm.avic.com/News/664173.shtml On display were the L-15 light combat aircraft, the CAC/PAC JF-17 multirole combat aircraft along with the Wing Loong unmanned aerial vehicle and the Y-9 transport aircraft.https://web.archive.org/web/20190801035558/http:/enm.avic.com/News/664173.shtml In a press release, AVIC noted that attending the Russia International Military Technology Forum was a good opportunity to seek out arms sales to nations in the Commonwealth of Independent States.https://web.archive.org/web/20190801035558/http:/enm.avic.com/News/664173.shtml
AVIC’s international collaboration isn’t restricted to closely aligned countries such as Russia. AVIC has collaborated with some of the United Kingdom’s leading research institutions. On 15 March 2012, AVIC and Imperial College London established the AVIC Centre for Structural Design and Manufacture.https://web.archive.org/web/20190801042355/http:/www.chinese-embassy.org.uk/chn/zygx/kjjl/t915384.htm The Centre, according to a press release from Imperial College London, engages in ‘world leading scientific research into aircraft design and manufacturing technologies.’https://web.archive.org/web/20191002031645/https://www.imperial.ac.uk/avic-design/
In August 2012, AVIC’s Commercial Aircraft Engine Company (ACAE) entered into a £3 million agreement with the University of Nottingham to establish the University Innovation Centre (UIC).https://web.archive.org/web/20191002031742/https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/news/pressreleases/2012/august/chinese-aerospace-business-funds-3m-university-innovation-centre.aspx Commenting on the agreement, a professor at the university said that UIC should ‘further enhance our understanding of composite materials and thermal barrier coatings.’ Nottingham’s pro-vice chancellor for business engagement and knowledge transfer, added that the UIC would foster ‘close partnerships’ between ACAE, AVIC and Nottingham.https://web.archive.org/web/20191002031902/https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/research/groups/composites-research-group/research/mechanical-and-failure/avic-nottingham-university-innovation-centre.aspx
AVIC sends hundreds of students to universities including Cranfield University, the Henley Business School and the University of Warwick for postgraduate research at both the master’s and doctoral levels.https://web.archive.org/web/20191017020237/https://www.cae.cn/cae/html/files/2016-07/19/20160719141904299847648.pdf
AVIC’s Beijing Aeronautical Manufacturing Technology Research Institute, also known as AVIC Institute 625, appears on Japan’s End User List and on the US BIS Entity List.https://www.meti.go.jp/press/2017/05/20170524001/20170524001-1.pdf ; https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/policy-guidance/lists-of-parties-of-concern
Last updated 18 November 2019. Unclear about any wording? Visit the terminology page.