BISHKEK -- Kyrgyzstan appears to have acquired a Chinese short-range air-defense system. Recent footage of the Kyrgyz military indicates that Bishkek imported the "Flying Leopard 6C," a Chinese-made mobile short-range air-defense system that can engage targets up to six kilometers away.
The footage, which received attention among aviation bloggers and watchers of the post-Soviet space, shows the system's mobile radar, based on an Iveco VM90 4x4 chassis, in operation at a training exercise in Issyk-Kul region.
The Flying Leopard 6C system utilizes the QW-2 man-portable air-defense system.
No further details about the Kyrgyz acquisition of the system have emerged, making it unclear when the country procured the Flying Leopard 6C.
China has steadily made in-roads in arms sales to Central Asia, alongside the development of China's domestic defense industry and Beijing's efforts to deepen trade relations with Asian and European states as part of the 'Belt and Road' economic project. Longer-range Chinese air-defense systems have entered into service with Kyrgyzstan's neighbor Uzbekistan as well as nearby Turkmenistan.
Last year, China donated a number of vehicles, including at least six Tiger 4x4 armored vehicles, to Kyrgyzstan's Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The Chinese government has sought to improve its security relationship with the states of Central Asia, despite this area having usually been the purview of Moscow, which formerly oversaw the states of Central Asia before the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. in the early 1990s.