Who Makes the Finest Weapons: America, China, or Russia?

Michael Peck

Key point: Washington wants to sell more weapons to foreign countries. In order to win over customers, the United States is touting its superior (although more expensive) systems.

The U.S. government has a message for those nations that would buy Russian and Chines weapons: buyer beware.

“We have come a long way since the AK-47 became the ubiquitous symbol of Soviet-backed insurgencies from Southeast Asia to Africa,” R. Clarke Cooper, Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs, said during a speech at the Meridian International Center.  “Today, Russia is working hard to foist variants of its S-400 air defense system around the world, while China is supplying everything from armored personnel carriers to armed drones.  To quote another Latin phrase – caveat emptor! – Buyer, beware.  We have seen countries around the world leap at the chance to obtain high-tech, low cost defensive capabilities, only to see their significant investments crumble and rust in their hands.”

Cooper cited examples where Chinese weapons haven’t lived up their sales pitches. “In Africa, Cameroon procured four Harbin Z-9 attack helicopters in 2015: one crashed shortly after being handed over.  Kenya invested in Norinco VN4 armored personnel carriers – vehicles that China’s own sales representative declined to sit inside during a test firing.”

“And similarly, amongst our partners in the Middle East, we’ve seen instances in which countries that have procured Chinese CH-4 armed drones have found them to be inoperable within months, and are now turning around to get rid of them,” he added. “Caveat emptor!”

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