As Guizhou Aviation Industry Group has recently rolled out its first plane for export, the aircraft manufacturer is accelerating its overseas expansion.
The subsidiary of Beijing-headquartered Aviation Industry Corp of China has developed an export-oriented aircraft, a modified FTC-2000 Mountain Eagle, with some features more adaptable for combat scenarios, said Hu Jianxing, chief designer for Guizhou Aviation.
Wang Wenfei, the company's president, said the plane, which rolled out in early June, can be used to train fighter pilots in peacetime and be equipped with various types of missiles for use as a fighter in wartime.
AVIC Deputy General Manager Chen Yuanxian said at the launch ceremony that the rollout of the new Mountain Eagle is a first key step forward for exports, though he added that a number of assessments, including experiments and test flights, are still ahead.
The Mountain Eagle made its maiden flight in December 2003, after primary research on the Mountain Eagle began in the 1990s and development officially began in 2001.
Since then, the state-of-the-art trainer has been developed into navy and export series versions.
In 2006 and 2016, the proprietary model caught wide attention at the annual China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, which is the only international aerospace trade show in China endorsed by the Chinese central government.
Senior officials from many countries' air forces have visited the company to explore cooperation probabilities, Chinese media reported.
Cost effectiveness and high performance partially explains the Mountain Eagle's popularity in the international market, chief designer Hu said.
Wang agreed, adding that "we will be riding high on our proprietary innovations, continuing research and development efforts and tapping into market opportunities in China and abroad."
Unmanned aerial vehicles are another trump card behind the company's ambitious sales goal.
Guizhou Aviation has also developed an unmanned aircraft series of the Mountain Eagle, and that plane has become the first of its kind in the country to fly 24 hours in a single flight and reach an altitude of 5,000 meters, according to the company.
Capable of working under a variety of geographical circumstances, including desert, lake, volcanic and glacial environments, the series can take high-resolution photos and capture images with infrared technology. It has completed aerial mapping in scores of cities, providing data for the country's environmental monitoring.
The unmanned planes developed by the company have provided emergency and disaster relief and environmental monitoring services in 10 regions across the country.
"Our next step may be to offer pilot training and provide flight simulator experiences," Wang said. "The national strategy of military-civil industrial integration provides Guizhou Aviation historic opportunities for new takeoffs of its development."