Beijing is the first foreign buyer of leading fighter jets, will cost $2 bln: report
China has reportedly purchased 24 Su-35 fighter jets for $2 billion from Russia, a move that analysts believe shows trust between the two countries and will help enhance China's military.
The contract was signed by the two countries, with China becoming the aircraft's first foreign buyer, the Tass news agency quoted Russian daily Kommersant as saying on Thursday.
An anonymous high-ranking official in the Khabarovsk Territory government told Tass that "talks between representatives of China and Russia were held on Sunday in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, and these negotiations have been going on for several years."
Rostec Director-General Sergey Chemezov also confirmed with the Kommersant that the contract has been signed. Rostec is the Russian high-technology state corporation.
"China has officially become the first foreign contractor of the Su-35 aircraft. The contract has no precedent in the history of military aircraft deliveries," he said.
"The signing of the contract is a crucial step for military trade, but we still need confirmation from China, since it's a bilateral deal," Fu Qianshao, a Beijing-based air defense expert told the Global Times on Thursday.
If the deal is reached, the trust between China and Russia will reach a new level, Li Shuyin, a Beijing-based expert on Russian studies, previously told the Global Times.
"They will help strengthen China's military capability and improve China's presence in the South China Sea and East China Sea," added Li.
"The Su-35 is a leading aircraft in third-generation jets, which can detect fighters 400 kilometers away, and is also capable of detecting stealth targets," said Fu. He added that the Su-35 can fly farther and boasts of a wider combat radius than the Su-27 and Su-30 fighters.
"The Su-35 can complement other third-generation fighters in China as well as fourth-generation jets in the future for an improved air combat system," added Fu.
Russia needs to ease economic and political pressure by exporting military products, and the deal might boost exports of other military equipment and facilities, Qin Zhen, a weapons expert and editor of Ordnance Knowledge, told the Global Times.
The reported contract comes amid the visit of a Chinese delegation to Russia headed by Xu Qiliang, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, together with senior PLA navy and air force commanders.
Xu stressed that China is willing to work with Russia to promote defense cooperation, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
During his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Xu hailed the high-level growth of bilateral comprehensive partnership of strategic coordination, which brought along the fruitful cooperation of the two armed forces.