According to Flight Global, Beijing has requested to purchase an unspecified number Sukhoi Su-35 4++ generation multirole air superiority fighters and Almaz-Antei S-400 long-range air defense systems from Moscow.
Alexander Fomin, deputy head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, said Moscow was considering the applications, which were made last year.
A Russian Federation Ministry of Defense source subsequently told the Kommersant business newspaper that China was seeking to acquire 48 Su-35s in a deal valued at an estimated US$4 billion, one of the largest in recent years.
While a deal is almost closed, Moscow has reportedly made it conditional on Beijing guaranteeing it would respect copyrights to prevent copycat production. Last year, China cancelled an order for 95 Su-27s for local assembly after local manufacturer Shenyang launched serial production of the Jian-11 (J-11), which is of comparable (read: probably stolen) design.
China, which already deploys the Russian-made S-300PMU2 “Favorit” (NATO: SA-10) air defense system (with a range of 195km), hopes to field the S-400 (NATO: SA-20 “Triumf”) starting in 2015. The S-400 has a 400km range, or about twice that of the US-made Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3).
A different version of this article appeared in the Taipei Times on March 9 and can be accessed here.