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Su-35S Flanker-E - China

China confirmed a deal to buy Su-35 fighter jets from Russia on November 26, 2015. The deal made China the first foreign buyer of the Su-35, one of Russia's most advanced military aircraft, and is one of the largest contracts for military jets to have ever been signed between the two countries.

The main reason for this remarkable purchase could be Russias jet engines. The Su-35 flies with two next generation AL-41F1C engines that enable it to achieve supersonic speed without afterburner, a feature attributed to 5th Generation jets. And AL-41F1C actually is a de-rated version of the AL-41F1 (117C) engine used on the T-50 PAK-FA, Russian 5G fighter jet. The reason behind Chinas interest for the Su-35 is its engine, the AL-117S turbofan. China has put much effort in developing its own turbofan akin to the Su-35s, known as the WS-10 turbofan, but it continues to underperform the Russian-made AL-117S. If Chinese engineers manage to reverse engineer the Russian technology they may be able to narrow the technological gap with Russia and the West.

According to some Russian experts, the Russian Su-35 can be a serious adversary for the F-15, the Eurofighter and Rafale. Soem Russians claim ghis fighter by some characteristics surpasses NATO military aircraft of the fifth generation. In addition, Russsian experts say that the Russian aircraft is not inferior to the best western fourth-generation fighters, if not exceed them. The speed of the Su-35 and a large weapons load will allow it to fight outside the line of sight. A maneuverability and EW Su-35 will help to evade enemy missiles.

Komsomolsk-on-Amur aviation plant (KnAAZ) in the Khabarovsk region before the end of the year will deliver to China four aircraft Su-35, said 15 September 2016 at the opening ceremony of the new plant factory governor of the region Vyacheslav Shport. "From 2016 to 2018 is provided in the manufacturing and shipment KnAAZ 24 aircraft Su-35 for China in the current year it is planned to deliver four aircraft to China." - Shport said.

Earlier it was reported that a contract to supply 24 multi-role fighters Su-35 4 ++ generation was signed in 2015. Generation 4 ++ conditional and indicates that the aggregate characteristics of the Su-35 right up close to the fifth-generation fighter: with the exception of stealth technology and AFAR it meets most of the requirements in the fifth-generation aircraft.

"The Su-35 fighter jet project is one of the areas in which China and Russia are willing to cooperate," said Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian in response to a question about the US$2-billion deal. The two countries will continue to enhance cooperation in military technology based on equality and mutual benefit, Wu said at a monthly press briefing.

A spokeswoman for Russian state holding Rostec confirmed a deal between the two countries had been signed involving Su-35 fighter jets worth more than US$2 billion. Rostec Director-General Sergey Chemezov confirmed with the Kommersant that the contract has been signed. Rostec is the Russian high-technology state corporation. "China has officially become the first foreign contractor of the Su-35 aircraft. The contract has no precedent in the history of military aircraft deliveries," he said. "The signing of the contract is a crucial step for military trade, but we still need confirmation from China, since it's a bilateral deal," Fu Qianshao, a Beijing-based air defense expert told the Global Times 15 September 2016.

While commenting on another question about Russia's plan to provide the first round of S-400 modern anti-aircraft missile systems to China within the next 12 to 18 months, Wu said cooperation is under way according to plans. Air defense is an important part of China-Russia military technology cooperation, the spokesman added.

China reportedly purchased 24 Su-35 fighter jets for $2 billion from Russia, a move that analysts believed showed trust between the two countries and will help enhance China's military.

In March 2012 there were reports that Moscow and Beijing were close to striking a deal on China buying 48 Su-35 multifunctional fighter jets for $4 billion. The Russians agreed to sell only assembled planes and in addition insist on signing a special anti-copycat agreement, designed to prevent the Chinese from copying the vehicle and its parts, as has happened before. This demand became a stumbling block in the negotiations. Russia has great doubts concerning the practicability of selling AL-41F1C engines to Beijing without the special replication clause. This does not suit China because in the end they need technology to organize a production line for such engines of their own.

Before President Xi Jinpings March 2013 visit to Russia and Africa, China and Russia signed two major contracts on the sale of arms. According to the contract, the two countries will jointly produce four Lada Class air-independent propulsion submarines which will then be sold to China. China will also buy 24 Su-35 jet fighters from Russia. Experts said that the Su-35 will reduce the pressure on Chinas air-defense before Chinas stealth fighter is put into use. This was the first time China had bought important military equipment from Russia in ten years.

Sources claim that the two countries spent the previous five years in talks to buy the jets, but it was not until Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu's visit to China last December that the two sides decided on 24 jets of the kind. The deal was said to be worth more than US$1.5 billion and, if possible, the first jet will be delivered in 2015.

Why would Russia sell China Su-35 fighter jets? Given Chinas history of stealing Russian defense technology, some found Moscows thinking hard to understand. Russia would be giving up a tremendous amount of technical knowledge and knowhow to China with very few safeguards to stop a repeat of the SU-27 incident. For Russia, the risks seemed obvious. Competing against your own technology in the lucrative arms trade is never a good thing. While a deal today might be profitable, the loss of multiple future deals to cheaper Chinese copies could be a disaster tomorrow. Also, todays friendships could give way to tomorrows geostrategic challenges. Russia and Chinas interests might not always align so closely. It would be a pity if Russia someday were forced to consider squaring off against military technology it sold to Beijing, either directly or against Chinese sales to some future adversary.

Russia could be banking on China to behave this go around: it had the option of cutting off oil supplies if Beijing does not behave. China surpassed the United States in net oil imports on an annual basis by 2014 as U.S. oil production and Chinese oil demand increase simultaneously. China imported 5.4 million bbl/d of crude oil on average in 2012. China and Russia have signed deals for Russia to send China close to 1 million bbl/d of crude oil by 2020 through various routes.

Russia is ready to supply Su-35 jet fighters of standard version to China, a high-ranking Russian official told TASS on 14 November 2014. "During the talks, we informed the Chinese side that we can supply a standard version of the Su-35 jet fighters, which has been completed and tested, and received Russian Air Forces certificate," he said at the Zhuhai Air Show.

Then the fighters will be upgraded to meet the customers requirements, the official said. If the need arises, Russia is ready to sign an additional contract to conduct design and experimental works, the official said. It will take much time to upgrade aircraft before its supplies to the customer because any changes envisage additional flight proof cycles and firing of all types of weaponry. Only flight tests of all types of missiles used by the Su-35 jet fighter require 1,000 flying hours. We cant do this, he said.

The other thing is that the jet fighters are supplied to the Chinese party, the Sukhoi company will be ready to conduct the additional design and experimental work, complete software and introduce writing in aircraft equipment in Chinese, the official said.

All of the Sukhoi-35S jet fighters Russia is to supply to China will be delivered in fully assembled form, a military-diplomatic source has told TASS on the sidelines of the MAKS air show on 25 August 2015. Earlier reports mentioned the possibility some planes might be assembled in China. By now all details have been cleared up and the whole batch of the jet fighters will be delivered to the customer fully assembled. "There are no plans for production in China under license. All planes will be delivered from Russia," the source said.

The agreement reportedly includes not only the supply of 24 jets to the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) for a total of $2 billion ($83 million per unit) but also the delivery of ground support equipment and reserve aircraft engines. The first batch of the planes, with the NATO reporting name Flanker-E, was expected to be delivered in 2016.

The 24 Russian Su-35 sold to the Chinese complete with the latest Russian AL-41F1 engines, also known as the "Article 117". China does not need the plane, however the engines are essential for the continuation of the R&D of the fifth generation jets.

The problem for Moscow is that Beijing only buys a small amount of a weapons system and then copies it. The one area they can't do this is engines but they are spending huge amounts to catch up.

On 19 November 2015 Russia and China inked a contract on purchases of 24 Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets, with an estimated sum of the deal topping $2bln, the Russian daily Kommersant said on Thursday citing defense sources. "The protracted talks on Su-35 deliveries to China have ended," Director General of the Russian high-technology state corporation Rostec Sergey Chemezov told the daily. "We have signed the contract."

"China has officially become the first foreign contractor of the Su-35 aircraft. The contract has no precedents in the history of military aircraft deliveries," he said. Until the deal, Russia was the only country whose Air Force is equipped with Su-35 fighter jets (NATO reporting name Flanker-E).

The Gagarin Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association in Russias Far East, which is part of Sukhoi Company, Russias largest aircraft manufacturer, will produce 24 Su-35 fighters for the Chinese Air Force, a high-ranking official in the Khabarovsk Territory government told TASS on Thursday.

"Closed talks between representatives of China and Russia were held on Sunday in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. These negotiations were in progress for several years, the Chinese military was interested in Su-35 fighters and the possibility of putting them into service in China. The contract was concluded on purchasing 24 Su-35 fighters," the source said, adding that this was the first foreign customer of the 4++ generation aircraft. The governments press service reported that Governor of Khabarovsk Territory Vyacheslav Shport would comment on the order to be fulfilled by the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association.

The cost of one Su-35 fighter is estimated at $83-85 million, which means that the total value of the contract may reach $2 billion.

On 25 December 2016, China received the first shipment of Russian-made Su-35 fighter jets, as part of a deal between Moscow and Beijing on delivering a total of 24 aircraft. Russia and China signed a contract on the delivery of 24 Russian Sukhoi Su-35 aircraft, estimated to be worth $2 billion, in 2015. The S-35 is a 4++ generation, twin-engine, highly maneuverable multirole fighter jet. It has a maximum speed of 1,553 mph (2,500 kmh) with advanced dry thrust and afterburner capabilities that enhance the aircrafts dogfighting maneuverability and semi-stealth design that makes it possibly the most lethal fighter jet in the sky. The fighter jet is an upgraded version of the Su-27 multirole fighter. It was first introduced to a foreign audience at the 2013 Paris Air Show.

China might purchase more Su-35 fighter jets, Chinese media and military analysts said 30 June 2019, after Russia reportedly offered an additional batch of the warplanes to China. Although the Chinese Air Force has developed rapidly in recent years, many outdated fighter jets are still in service, so bringing in Su-35 fighter jets to replace them will do no harm to China, Weihutang, a military column affiliated with China Central Television, reported. The Weihutang report came after TASS Russian News Agency reported on 28 June 2019 that the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation has offered to sell another batch of Su-35 fighter jets to China.

However, Fu Qianshao, a Chinese air defense expert, told the Global Times that while China could indeed buy more Su-35s, they are not meant to replace older Chinese jets because the Russian aircraft is too expensive and China has too many old jets. The replacement will most likely be done by domestically made warplanes, he said. Having already bought a batch of Su-35s previously, China does not need more to learn from it technically, Fu noted.

But if China indeed buys more, it would make the Chinese Air Force's logistical support for the warplane fleet more efficient as there would be more spare parts and dedicated personnel, Fu said, noting that economic and political factors might also play a part in the potential deal due to China and Russia's close relations, and a Chinese purchase would help boost Russia's aviation industry.

Su-35 - Background

In March 2012 there were reports that Moscow and Beijing were close to striking a deal on China buying 48 Su-35 multifunctional fighter jets for $4 billion. Chinas Ministry of National Defense (MND) denied emphatically that such a deal was in the works, stating the press coverage is not in accord with the facts and the Su-35 does not fit Chinas national situation (Caixun, March 12; Global Times, March 12).

The Su-35 completed its first flight in 2008 and is an upgrade of the older Su-27 model. The main reason for this remarkable purchase could be Russias jet engines. The Su-35 flies with two next generation AL-41F1C engines that enable it to achieve supersonic speed without afterburner, a feature attributed to 5G jets. And AL-41F1C actually is a de-rated version of the AL-41F1 (117C) engine used on the T-50 PAK-FA, Russian 5G fighter jet.

The Russians agreed to sell only assembled planes and in addition insist on signing a special anti-copycat agreement, designed to prevent the Chinese from copying the vehicle and its parts, as has happened before. This demand became a stumbling block in the negotiations. Russia has great doubts concerning the practicability of selling AL-41F1C engines to Beijing without the special replication clause. This does not suit China because in the end they need technology to organize a production line for such engines of their own.

Before President Xi Jinpings March 2013 visit to Russia and Africa, China and Russia signed two major contracts on the sale of arms. According to the contract, the two countries will jointly produce four Lada Class air-independent propulsion submarines which will then be sold to China. China will also buy 24 Su-35 jet fighters from Russia. Experts said that the Su-35 will reduce the pressure on Chinas air-defense before Chinas stealth fighter is put into use. This was the first time China had bought important military equipment from Russia in ten years.

Sources claim that the two countries spent the last five years in talks to buy the jets, but it was not until Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu's visit to China in December 2012 that the two sides decided on 24 jets of the kind. The deal was said to be worth more than US$1.5 billion and, if possible, the first jet will be delivered in 2015.

Beijing sought a promise from Moscow to set up a maintenance center in China as part of the contract and Chinese experts must be able to maintain and repair Su-35 fighters with training provided by Russian advisers. China has documented issues producing fighter jet engines, and even the ability to take apart and dissect Russias latest military wares would be of use.

Considering the long range of the SU-35, such a plane would be of great value to loiter over disputed territories in the East and South China Sea for extended periods of time. Indeed, if Beijing buys into all the talk about Air-Sea Battle (ASB) being all about deep strikes on the Chinese mainland, an advanced fighter jet to defend the homeland does not seem like a bad investment in the long term.




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Page last modified: 09-07-2019 17:59:05 ZULU