There are number of reasons for such a dramatic decrease. From China's perspective, the huge quantity of purchased hardware outpaced new doctrine designed to utilize it. They also believed that relying too heavily on imported weapons could hamper their long-term modernization by diverting funds away from industry. Self-reliance has always been the long term goal. As for the Russians, the Chinese insistence of technology transfers and local production fueled concern for future competition from the Chinese defense industry. Proof became clear in early 2000 when China stopped buying full systems and only imported components they could not produce at home.
The deadlock seems to have abated recently with the Chinese purchase of 9 Russia Helix anti-helicopters. This deal was accompanied by the announcement of a Sino-Russian consortium to develop a large helicopter based on the Mi-26T. At last, they have changed their view of arms trade from a zero-sum game to a joint effort that can benefit both sides -- "comparative advantage" at work.
It will be interesting to see if this is just a "one-time-deal" to address the PLA's helicopter needs or maybe the start of a new trend.
China, Russia launch feasibility study on large helicopter
By Leithen Francis
Chinese state-owned helicopter manufacturer Avicopter is partnering Russian Helicopters, the consortium that includes Mil, to develop a 20t-plus heavy-lift helicopter and hopes to have it flying within five to 10 years.
Avicopter vice-president international operations and marketing, Xia Qunlin, says the companies are conducting a feasibility study and "working out the general configuration". Russian Helicopters says the aircraft is likely to have a two-person crew.
Xia says the impetus for the move was the May 2008 earthquake that devastated Sichuan province and underscored China's need for more heavy-lift helicopters to help with disaster relief efforts.
He says this will be a "civil helicopter, but as you know, heavy-lift helicopters can be used for military purposes".
At the moment, Russian Helicopters is focused on selling more Mil Mi-26T heavy-lift helicopters to China, which bought its second of the type last year. The Mi-26T has a five-person crew and the helicopter can take 80 passengers.
Xia says Avicopter is also working to upgrade its 2t Z11 light helicopter, but he will not elaborate.
Russian Federation and People's Republic of China to Define Heavy Helicopter Configuration in 2010
((Title says it all. Not further translated.))
PLA's all services acquire more helicopters of various functions
Updated: 2009-10-01 13:11
After fighter and bomber jets screaming overhead, 46 helicopters provided by the PLA's army aviation, naval aviation and air force airborne troops buzzed to skip the crowds.
Helicopters are gaining great attention from the PLA's all services for their unique and irreplaceable functions they have played in rescue and reconstruction operations since last year's devastating earthquake in Sichuan province.
Being short of heavy helicopters, the military rescue team found it difficult to transport tonnes of excavators, diggers and other machines into the mountainous regions of the quake-hit region.
An Mi-26 heavy-lift transport helicopter swiftly rented from a Russian company helped settle the stranded reconstruction project to dig out quake lakes.
The naval aviation's 10 rescue helicopters Z-8 in two arrow formations appeared again this year as they were displayed in the international fleet review in waters near Qingdao on April 23 to celebrate the 60th founding anniversary of the PLA's navy.
The following 18 reconnaissance gunships and another 18 attacking gunships modified from the PLA's Z-9 helicopter are from the army aviation, and the highly anticipated gunship Z-10 does not appear, which keep the new gunship's existence still a mystery.
China has started an ambitious project to design and manufacture the country's own trunkliner jet to break out dependence on the two aircraft giants, Boeing and Airbus.
China's biggest aircraft maker, Aviation Industry Corporation of China, also established a helicopter company in Tianjin this January to produce more helicopters and accessories for both the military and civilian uses.
Media reports said that Li Fangyong, president of the helicopter company, revealed the company would cooperate with Russian counterparts to jointly develop a heavy helicopter which will be more cost-effective than the Mi-26.