Despite intellectual property concerns, Russia recently agreed to sell 24 Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets to China – a deal worth $2 billion. But what is driving Moscow to seek deeper trade ties with Beijing? DW examines.
By Gabriel Domínguez
The deal, announced last week by Russian defense conglomerate Rostec, makes China the first foreign contractor of the multi-role Sukhoi Su-35 (main picture), an upgraded and highly maneuverable fighter jet. While the deal has yet to be confirmed by Beijing, Russian daily newspaper Kommersantquoted Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov on November 19 as saying: “The protracted talks on Su-35 deliveries to China have ended. We have signed the contract.”
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, is expected to be delivered next year.
A win-win situation?
Russian sales of advanced weapons to China, including modern combat aircraft, are not new. Indeed, throughout the post-Soviet period, China has been one of Russia’s most important customers for arms exports. The Chinese have been purchasing systems, such as the Su-27 fighter jet, and advanced surface-to-air missiles, from Russia for over a decade.
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