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China Poised to Take More Defence Market Share

By Arslan Khan

Author Profile: Arslan Khan is an aerospace engineering student and an analyst/observer of Pakistani defence issues.

As the war in Ukraine continues to play out, both Russia and Ukraine – who were major defence exporters – will likely have to cut back on their exports to rebuild their industries and attrition losses. 

Aside from this, another major issue is sanctions on the Russian state. These now add an extra area of complexity for Russian arms exports as their industries can no longer access Western componentry for their weapons and systems. 

According to a claim by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the Russians are already feeling the effect of the sanctions, being unable to replace tanks lost in the war due to access to Western components being restricted. However, this is a claim Quwa has been unable to verify. 

This, paired with chronic underfunding within the Russian defence industries has meant that slowly, China is laying the groundwork to overtake the Russians with regard to defence exports.

In some areas, China has held the title of being the largest exporter of certain types of hardware, drones being a key one. From 2014 to 2018, China was the largest exporter of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), with most of their orders being attributed to the Middle East and Africa. 

While on the other hand, the Russians have been struggling to induct their own drones, let alone export them.

Granted, China’s ability to export drones was helped, in part, by the tight control the US has on the export of the type. This was due to alleged human rights concerns, however, these export controls were loosened by the Trump administration to allow US companies to compete with China for these large contracts all over the world.

Fallout with Ukraine

Looking back at Ukraine, in 2014, the Ukrainians had halted exports to Russia. This was a serious decision as about 70% of Ukrainian arms exports were to the Russians. 

Ukraine was a key supplier of engines, motors, fuel and electronics, all of which were vital for Russian weapons programs. This had a significant impact on the Russian defence industries and their ability to fulfil their contractual obligations…

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