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Defence & Aerospace

China: PLA signs preliminary deal for 24 Russian Su-35 jet fighters

Russian Su-35

Russian Su-35

A preliminary deal for the sale of 24 advanced Russian Su-35 jet fighters to the People’s Liberation Army indicates the technological hurdles China faces in developing its own J-20, especially in terms of engine technology, military analysts say.

Mainland and Russian media reported last month that Beijing might purchase 24 Su-35s, an updated version of the fourth generation Su-27, for US$1.5 billion. The deal was first proposed by Moscow two years ago.

Beijing expressed interest in purchasing only four Su-35s last year, but that was rejected by Moscow, which had originally expected China to buy 48 planes, Moscow’s Vedomosti business daily quoted an official from Russia’s Federal Service for Military and Technical Co-operation as saying.

It also quoted Igor Korotchenko, head of the Russian Defence Ministry’s public council, as saying Moscow also asked Beijing to sign an agreement not to make copies of the Su-35.

A Beijing-based PLA senior colonel, who requested anonymity, said: “We decided to buy the Su-35 because it’s a fact that our home-made engines have failed to measure up to the Russian products.”

He said China was still playing catch-up, despite recent headlines hailing its progress on military modernisation.

“Engines have been the biggest headache and we are still trying to cope with it,” he said. “The purchase of the Su-35s might help our J-20 project, but there are too many deeper problems hiding in our military industrial system that are hindering our research and development.”

Andrei Chang, editor-in-chief of the Canadian-based Kanwa Defence Review, said the possible Su-35 deal was aimed at obtaining 117S engines, the most advanced Russian engine installed in a single-seat, twin-engined fighter. “Beijing wants the engine [of the Su-35]… because their J-20 project failed to solve the most challenging part – the engine,” Chang said.

The J-20, China’s first stealth fighter, was unveiled early last year. Photographs posted on the internet by mainland military enthusiasts show the J-20 prototype has a stealth body shape similar to the American F-22 and F-35, with a hint of the Russian Su-27 in its turbofan engines. Military experts at home and overseas do not expect the J-20 to enter service until 2018 because of the engine problem.

Beijing’s earlier expression of interest in purchasing only four Su-35s was rejected by Russia because of copycat concerns, the Moscow Times reported.

“Beijing compromised on the size of [the Su-35 deal] … because they think 24 is an acceptable negotiation quantity, while Moscow feels it is worth considering,” Chang said.

The deal could also give a much-needed boost to Russia’s military industry, which desperately needs China’s business because formerly stalwart customers are proving less reliable.

“The Russian side has found their Su-35 production line lacks enough orders to [reduce unit cost and make it a profitable project],” Chang said.

“Russia originally expected some sales to Libya, who promised to order some [Su-35] jets under Muammar Gaddafi‘s administration, while Venezuela also planned to place orders,” he said. “But both have now backtracked on those promises due to political upheaval at home.” However, the export of Su-35s to China has stirred up a heated debate among Russian defence industry enterprises and military officials, with opponents to the deal highlighting China’s history of copying Russian weapons, Chang said.

China has long been producing unauthorised copies of the Russian Su-27 – as the Jian-11. It has also designed a two-seat fighter bomber version (the Jian-16) and a stealth version (the Jian-17), and obtained an aircraft-carrier-based version of the Su-30 from Ukraine to produce the Jian-15.

But Beijing insists they are all indigenous designs that just happen to bear some resemblance to Russian fighters.

“I think the Su-35 deal will be submitted to the Kremlin to make the final decision,” Chang said, adding there was still a long way to go before a final deal was signed.

“China and Russia have just signed a memorandum this year, meaning both sides have yet to decide on the deal because they need further rounds of negotiation and discussion involving prices, which models of Su-35 will be exported, what kinds of weapons systems will be involved in the deal, technology transfer and other details.”

Source: SCMP “PLA signs preliminary deal for 24 Russian Su-35 jet fighters”

About chankaiyee2

Author of the book "Tiananmen's Tremendous Achievements" about how with the help of Tiananmen Protests, talented scholars with moral integrity seized power in the Party and state and brought prosperity to China. The second edition of the book will be published within a few days to mark the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Protests All the parts in the first edition remain in the second edition with a few changes due to information available later and better understanding. There are also some changes for improvements of style. The new parts are Chapters 12-19 on events in China after the first edition was published: The fierce power struggle for succession between reformists and conservatives; Xi Jinping winning all elders’ support during his mysterious disappearance for 2 weeks in early September, 2012; and Xi Jinping Cyclone. Chan Kai Yee's new book: SPACE ERA STRATEGY: The Way China Beats The US An eye-opening book that tells the truth how the US is losing to China. The US is losing as it adopts the outdated strategy of Air-Sea Battle while China adopts the space era strategy to pursue integrated space and air capabilities: It is losing due to its diplomacy that has given rise to Russian-Chinese alliance. US outdated strategy has enabled China to catch up and surpass the US in key weapons: Hypersonic weapons (HGV) that Pentagon regards as the weapon that will dominate the world in the future. Aerospaceplane in China’s development of space-air bomber that can engage enemy anywhere in the world within an hour and destroy an entire aircraft carrier battle group within minutes. Anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons, anti-ASAT weapons, stealth aircrafts, drones, AEW&C, etc. The book gives detailed descriptions of China’s weapon development based on information mainly from Chinese sources that the author monitors closely. U.S. Must Not Be Beaten by China! China is not a democracy. Its political system cannot prevent the emergence of a despotic leader or stop such a leader when he begins to bring disasters to people. A few decades ago, Mao Zedong, the worst tyrant in world history did emerge and bring disasters to Chinese people. He wanted to fight a nuclear war to replace capitalism with communism but could not bring nuclear holocaust to world people as China was too weak and poor at that time. If a despot like Mao Zedong emerges when China has surpassed the US in military strength, world people will suffer the misery experienced by Chinese people in Mao era. China surpassing the US in GDP is not something to worry about as China has the heavy burden to satisfy its huge population, but China surpassing the US in military strength will be world people’s greatest concern if China remains an autocracy. US people are of much better quality than Chinese people. What they lack is a wise leader to adopt the correct strategy and diplomacy and the creative ways to use its resources in developing its military capabilities. I hope that with the emergence of a great leader, the US can put an end to its decline and remain number one in the world. China, US, space era strategy, air-sea battle, space-air bomber, arms race, weapon development, chan kai yee

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