25 March 2013
A recent official visit to Moscow brought back some new souvenirs for the Chinese military.
How about a reported 24 Sukhoi SU-35 fighter jets, and four submarines from Russia.
China‘s new president Xi Jinping was in Russia this week to meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Both sides agreed to two arms-sale contracts in which China will buy Russian Sukhoi made fighter jets, Xinhua and Agence France Press reported on Monday.
China has been itching to buy the planes since the 1990s and has been in hot pursuit since last March.
Russia’s Interfax confirmed the existence and date of that agreement back in February, but didn’t speculate on sales numbers. This month, official talks trimmed the order down to 24 planes from an initial discussion of 48 Sukhoi Super Flankers. The Russians are said to have more confidence that China can’t copy their engines, and are also said to need the SU-35 orders because Russia’s Defense Department is ordering follow-on buys of new upgraded Sukhoi SU-35s instead.
The deals raised concern among some regional defense players — namely India. China Central Television reported on Sunday that the purchase deals were signed before President Xi Jinping’s ever stepped foot into Russia. The military deal marks the first time in a decade that China had bought large military technological equipment from Russia, according to official television.
Meanwhile, the four Lada-class diesel-electric submarines will be jointly designed and built by both countries, with two of them to be built in Russia and the other two in China.
“The Su-35 fighters can effectively reduce pressure on China’s air defense before Chinese-made stealth fighters come online,” Li Hong, secretary-general of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, said in a Xinhua newswire story. Li said the recent purchases and joint building plan serve as an indicator of the evolution of the overall China-Russian strategic partnership.
“It is the natural, well-deserved fruit of bilateral defense cooperation, and both sides have made it clear that the bilateral strategic partnership is not targeting anyone,” Li said.
The Sukhoi SU-35 is a single seat super maneuverable, acrobatic fighter plane. Russia is the only Air Force to fly the SU-35. At altitude, its top speed is Mach 2.25 compared to Mach 2 for the U.S. F-16 Fighting Falcon, another multirole fighter aircraft made by General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin. The SU-35 is designed by Sukhoi and built together with Komsomolsk Aircraft Production Association, aka KnAPPO, Russia’s largest aircraft maker. Both are part of United Aircraft Corporation.