China has resumed negotiations with Russia over the purchase of "4++ generation" Sukhoi Su-35 multirole fighters. Although Moscow and Beijing had been discussing a deal for over two years, China halted the process for several months after details of the talks appeared in the Russian media.
A large Russian delegation met Chinese representatives on the eve of Airshow China in Zhuhai to make an additional presentation on the Su-35. United Aircraft president Mikhail Pogosyan and Russian air force commander Gen Viktor Bondarev were among the members of the Russian delegation.
Commenting on the resumption of the Su-35 negotiation process, a high ranking member of the Russian delegation said relatively slow progress with next-generation Chinese fighter designs has led Beijing to seek ways to purchase a quantity of the best Russian fighters to bridge the gap.
Today, the Su-35 is the most advanced Russian heavyweight multirole fighter available for export sales. The more recent PAK-FA (T-50) is not considered sufficiently mature to be offered to China. Russia is working with India on the customised FGFA, but this is a co-development programme - an arrangement not available to China.
Moscow is ready to sell China a quantity of Su-35 fighters provided Beijing places a worthwhile order, "not merely a couple of specimens for reverse engineering", says a member of the Russian delegation. In particular, Russia is ready to sell China a substantial number of NIIP Irbis third-generation radars with passive electronic scanning and NPO Saturn Item 117S engines as part of a would-be Su-35 purchase.