C-802 surface to surface missile (photo : Aviation Week)
Hong Kong, China — China has exported two 16 PA6 shipborne diesel engines to Myanmar to be fitted on its navy's indigenous patrol ships, a representative of the German MAN Diesel Company, which designed the original engines, has confirmed.
The PLA Navy's 054A missile frigate uses four 16 PA6 engines, produced by China under license from MAN Diesel. MAN Diesel was originally the SEMT Pielstick Company, under French ownership, but changed its name following restructuring last year.
China's export of these engines will help Myanmar upgrade its patrol vessels. Since 1998, Myanmar has built three Sinmalaik-class patrol vessels, with help from China in the design and construction of the vessel hulls.
The Sinmalaik-class patrol vessel has a full-load displacement of 1,000 tons and is not fitted with ship-to-ship missiles. The Myanmar navy apparently has plans to develop its own light-duty offshore patrol vessels with China's assistance, and China's provision of the 16 PA6 engines is likely related to this plan.
Most of the major surface combatants of the Myanmar navy were supplied by China, so the navy resembles the PLA Navy in many respects. It has acquired Chinese 40-kilometer-range C-801 ship-to-ship missiles along with 037-G high-speed missile patrol boats. The Myanmar navy altogether has four 037-G fast missile boats, which were all delivered between 1995 and 1997.
China officially issued an export license for its new C-802A ship-to-ship missiles six months ago, intending to promote sales to South and Southeast Asian countries. The C-802A has a range of 180 kilometers and is a replacement for the earlier C-801 and C-802 SSMs.
Not only the Myanmar navy but also its army and air force are equipped with massive Chinese military equipment. For the past 10 years, China has been the largest supplier of arms to the country. Japanese television news broadcast during last September's military crackdown on Buddhist monks showed Myanmar soldiers using Chinese-made Dongfeng trucks and even wearing Chinese helmets.
The army has been equipped with more than 100 Chinese T-69-II main battle tanks and 55 new T-90 armored personnel carriers. A Google Earth satellite photo shows that at least two Chinese A5M attackers have been deployed in the northern city of Mandalay, which can be used for assaults on rebels in the northern part of the country.
China sold more than 22 A5M attackers and at least 50 F-7 fighters to the Myanmar air force in 1991 and 1993. Satellite photos have also shown two Chinese-made Y-8 transporters at the Yangon airport. Also, 12 Chinese Lang Chang K-8 jet trainer aircraft have been sold to the country in the past seven years, the same type sold to the Sudanese air force.
For its part, China is actively pursuing access to Myanmar's natural resources, especially its oil and natural gas. Last year China won a bid to extract natural gas from Myanmar's biggest offshore field, believed to hold as much as 7.7 trillion cubic feet of gas. The gas is to be delivered by a pipeline, yet to be constructed, via Mandalay to China's southern province of Yunnan.