skip to main content

CENTCOM commander warns of growing Chinese arms exports

An Iranian sailor looks at the Chinese destroyer Nanning during an exercise in March that also involved the Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov . Nanning also visited Abu Dhabi during the IDEX defence show in February. (Mehr News Agency)

US Central Command (CENTCOM) commander General Michael Kurilla repeatedly warned that China has significantly increased its defence exports to countries in his area of responsibility (AOR) when he testified to the Senate Armed Services committee on 16 March.

Gen Kurilla said Chinese defence exports to his AOR have increased 80% over the last 10 years as US defence exports decreased 30%.

CENTCOM AOR includes the former Soviet republics of Central Asia as well as Southwest Asia and Egypt. Gen Kurilla indicated that Arab militaries in the Gulf region are now turning to Beijing for air-defence systems when he said Chinese equipment cannot be part of the integrated air and missile defence network CENTCOM is trying to build with local partners to counter Iranian missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

“We're going towards a shared air picture between a group of countries. The challenge we have is, if there is Chinese equipment that we cannot integrate, whether that's a radar or an actual air-defence system, we can't let that touch our network based on what we know about the Chinese equipment,” he said.

When asked how CENTCOM is countering this problem, Gen Kurilla said it is trying to enhance its local partnerships in what he described as a “race to integrate before China can penetrate”.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...