Top Russian officials have confirmed sales deals with China for the Sukhoi Su-35 and with Indonesia on an additional quantity of Su-30MK2 multirole fighters.
China is close to signing for 24 Sukhoi Su-35 single-seat multirole fighters, in a deal worth $1.5 billion. The Moscow-based newspaper Vedomosti recently reported that Beijing and Moscow have agreed delivery terms, including quantity and price. Rosoboronexport and Sukhoi declined to comment.
China has conducted fixed-wing operations on an aircraft carrier for the first time. The initial trial was conducted by a pair of Shenyang J-15s, numbers “552” and “553,” on the Liaoning, (side number 16), the country’s ex-Russian vessel. The aircraft were unpainted apart from serial numbers and large photo-calibration marks. They are believed to be the second and third J-15 prototypes, and are powered by the Russian-made AL31F engine rather than the Chinese WS10H that has been installed in some other J-15 prototypes.
Sukhoi believes it is within two years of making first deliveries of its new Su-35 fighter as it prepares to add a third prototype to the flight-test program before the end of this month.
China’s march to overhaul its front-line fighter fleet is making good progress, thanks to two major indigenous production programs involving the Chengdu J-10 and Shenyang J-11 models. The Chengdu product is an all-Chinese design that is now entering service in numbers. The J-11 is a license-built Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker, which in its latest production version incorporates important Chinese components.
The amount of foreign off-the-shelf defense products China purchases is falling, overall, but its cooperation with foreign countries–mainly Russia–shows a growing trend toward acquiring licenses and technologies for production and joint development projects. The Chinese are especially interested in new materials, composites, software and high technology for aircraft or engines. They also are developing product support infrastructure.
Test flights of a completely upgraded Sukhoi Su-35 will start before year-end, according to Sukhoi general director Mikhail Pogosyan. The Russian design bureau (Stand E738) hopes the super-maneuverable multi-role fighter will secure its future in the global fighter market shortly and is promoting it as an interim model between the existing Su-30MK and an advanced fifth-generation aircraft.