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.
A total of 12 Sukhoi Su-34 interdiction aircraft are being procured this year, according to Russian air force commander General Alexander Zelin, speaking last week at the Moscow Air Show (MAKS 2011). The service is seeking a total of 120 Su-34s, Zelin said.
China has signed a fifth contract with Russia’s Rosoboronexport for the supply of Saturn AL-31FN military turbofan engines from the MMPP Salyut factory to power the Chengdu J-10 multi-role fighter, according to reports from Moscow.
Following months of speculation, fueled by tidbits gleaned during the Zhuhai airshow in November, the first images of China’s newest combat aircraft were revealed in the week before Christmas. Believed to be designated the J-20, the aircraft is under development by Chengdu (611 Design Institute) and Shenyang, with the former leading the effort having effectively won a design competition in 2008.
While development of the T-50 PAK-FA gathers pace, the Su-35 remains Sukhoi’s export priority for the next five to seven years. The aircraft is designed to plug the gap between the existing Su-30 and future fifth-generation fighters. According to Sukhoi, the Su-35 already incorporates some fifth-generation technology, thereby having an edge over other fourth-generation combat platforms.
Sukhoi’s Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aviation Industrial Association (KnAAPO) has started manufacturing the first development prototypes of an advanced fifth-generation fighter. Sukhoi told AIN that it will complete an experimental aircraft in the second half of next year, after which it will start flight trials.
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.
Russian fifth-generation fighter programs could undergo major revisions to meet India’s requirements, following Sukhoi’s offer of an export version of the latest T-50 model. With India as a major importer of Russian defense equipment (purchases last year accounted for $1.8 billion), Sukhoi and its rival/possible collaborator can ill-afford to be out of sync with the Asian power’s military agenda.
Both China’s J-10 fighter and the Indian air force Bakhadur MiG-27ML fighter bomber are set to be re-engined with two new variations of the Russian Salyut AL-31FN engines–the AL-31FN M1 and the 99-3, respectively.