China possibly purchasing Russian SU-35 fighter because of problems with their own J-20 Stealth fighter. “Reports have surfaced that at least one of the J-20 prototypes uses a Russian borrowed engine.”

Russia is reportedly close to finalizing a major sale of advanced fighter aircraft to China worth $4 billion. Such a sale, newsworthy in itself, would have been hard to imagine as recently as a few years ago considering the history of previous agreements.

The anticipated deal, first reported by Kommersant, sees the two sides “practically agreed on the delivery of 48 Su-35 multirole fighters, worth $4 billion, to China.” Some reports suggest that Chinese officials have dismissed talk of such a deal. But if true, an agreement like this would certainly make sense for Beijing, giving China access to an advanced fighter. The Su-35 or “NATO Flanker-E +” is described as a “4++ generation (fighter) using fifth-generation technology.” The fighter is “armed with 30-millimeter cannons and has 12 points of suspension for suspension of arms, including missiles and bombs.”

Russia, having lost out in India’s MMRCA fighter competition to French competitor Rafale, would for its part gain an important new military contract. But it seems like Moscow also has much to lose through the sale. After all, purely business considerations aside, Russia is said to have been stung before after selling China advanced aircraft.

And there’s another question raised by the reported deal – why would China want to procure advanced 4th generation fighters when it’s developing a 5th generation plane, the J-20, which is believed to have stealth capabilities?

A look into the recent past offers some possible answers.


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