Russia to Sell China Su-35 Multirole Fighter Jets
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Russia to Sell China Su-35 Multirole Fighter Jets

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Russia and China are moving closer to concluding an agreement whereby Moscow would sell Beijing advanced 4++ generation multirole fighter jets, a senior official from Russia’s state-run defense industry told media outlets over the weekend.

Viktor Komardin, deputy head of the state-run Rosoboronexport, which is in charge of regulating defense imports and exports, told RIA Novosti on Saturday that negotiations for the sale of Russian Su-35 fighter jets to China are ongoing, and an agreement was likely to be reached sometime in 2014.

“Talks are ongoing, but the deal is unlikely to be sealed before the year’s end. The signing will most likely take place next year,” Viktor Komardin said.

The report noted that Komardin did not discuss how many fighter jets China was interested in purchasing, but did say that negotiations included Beijing purchasing ordnance for the advanced, highly maneuverable aircraft.

RIA Novosti also reported that the head of Rosoboronexport recently told Chinese pilots that they would “soon” have the opportunity to fly the Su-35s.

Moscow and Beijing began negotiating the sale of Su-35s in 2010, but progress was slow and talks were temporarily suspended last year over Russian concerns that China would reverse engineer the plane’s engines and passive electronically scanned array (PESA) radar systems, according to The Taipei Times.

China has a long history of developing local variants of Russian military systems it purchases from Moscow. China’s Shenyang J-11B, for example, is believed to be based on the Sukhoi Su-27SK fighter jet. This in part led Russia to drastically reduce the amount and sophistication of its arm sales to China for many years. However, recent years have seen a sharp uptick in Moscow’s defense exports to Beijing.

Ahead of Xi Jinping’s trip to Russia in March, China’s state-run media reported that the two sides had concluded one of their largest defense deals in over a decade when China agreed to purchase 24 Su-35 jet fighters from Russia and jointly develop four Lada Class air-independent propulsion submarines, which China would then purchase.

However, Russia immediately denied that such an agreement had been reached and even claimed that arms sales would not be discussed by Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the visit. This created confusion on the state of the talks and called into question whether Russia was even still interested in selling China the Su-35s. The recent comments by Rosoboronexport officials clarify that Russia is still indeed interested in selling China the jets. Now, it is merely a question of whether the two sides can come to terms on the specifics of an agreement.

Assuming they can, the Su-35 multirole fighter jets should greatly enhance China’s air capabilities. Although the Su-35 is derived from the Su-27 fighters that China already has bought and copied, it comes with significant improvements, leading Russia to refer to it as a 4++ generation aircraft.

According to Air Force Technology, the Su-35 “has high manoeuvrability (+9g) with a high angle of attack, and is equipped with high-capability weapon systems that contribute to the new aircraft's exceptional dogfighting capability. The maximum level speed is 2,390km/h or Mach 2.25.”

Air Force Technology also reports that the Su-35 is capable of carrying numerous air-to-air, air-to-surface and anti-ship missiles. It also says the airplane can be armed with various guided bombs, and that its sensors “can detect and track up to 30 airborne targets with a radar cross section (RCS) of 3m² at ranges of 400km using track-while-scan mode.”

The same source notes that the aircraft are "powered by two Sturn / UFA AL-31F 117S turbofan engines with thrust-vectoring nozzle control, each supplying 86.3kN thrust or 142.2kN with afterburn."

Here's a video from Russia Today (RT) of the Su-35 "rocking" the Paris Air Show this year. The descripton of the video says that "the Su-35 has been dubbed the 'UFO' for its outstanding maneuverability.

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