In a reversal of a decision made earlier this year, Moscow has agreed to sell 24 Sukhoi Su-35BM fighter aircraft to China for an estimated US$1.5 billion, a sale that will further shift the balance of power in the air over the Taiwan Strait.
Russia’s Rosoboronexport and the Chinese Ministry of National Defense are said to have reached a preliminary agreement, with details discussed during a meeting in Beijing on Wednesday between Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤).
Hu was accompanied by General Xu Qiliang (許其亮), who was appointed one of the two vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission during the 17th session of the seventh plenary conference earlier this month.
The 24 aircraft come equipped with the 117S engine designed by Russian firm NPO Saturn, the Russian business daily Vedomosti reported.
The contract is expected to be signed next year or in 2014, with delivery of the jets starting in 2015.
Beijing has yet to confirm the deal.
Russian media reported earlier this year that Moscow had decided against selling China the 48 so-called “fourth-plus-plus generation” Su-35s, valued at more than US$4 billion, after Beijing requested them last year. Analysts concluded at the time that Russia’s principal reason for not selling the advanced multirole aircraft was the risk of Chinese reverse engineering. Beijing had initially only requested four.
Relations were already strained after China canceled an order for 95 Su-27s last year after it launched the production of the J-11, which Russia alleged was a replica of the Su-27.
The spat led to Moscow’s decision not to sell carrier-based Su-33 aircraft to the Chinese navy, which then designed its own version, the J-15, based on a single Su-33 it obtained from Ukraine.
The Russian air force is expected to take delivery of its first Su-35s in 2015.
China’s rapid modernization of its air force also includes the development of two types of fifth-generation “stealth” aircraft, the J-20 and J-31. It occurs at a time when Taiwan’s air force readies to retire its aging F-5 and Mirage-2000 aircraft.
According to a recent report by the US Congressional Research Service, the number of combat aircraft in Taiwan’s air force will drop by 70 percent in 2020 if no new aircraft are acquired, and by 50 percent if Taiwan procures the 66 F-16C/Ds it has unsuccessfully been requesting from the US since 2006.
ONGOING PROBE: A former Military Intelligence Bureau colonel, major general and another colonel, as well as five other people, have been questioned by prosecutors The Taipei District Court yesterday ordered that a retired colonel from the Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) calling himself Taiwan’s “first special agent” be detained and held incommunicado as part of an ongoing investigation into espionage allegations targeting at least three former bureau officials. The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office was seeking to detain former MIB colonel Chang Chao-jan (張超然) over his alleged involvement in introducing retired agents to Chinese national security authorities and passing confidential documents to China. Chang’s actions, if proven, would contravene the National Security Act (國家安全法), which carries a prison term of three to 10 years, and the National Intelligence
The US House of Representatives’ China Task Force, launched by Republicans earlier this year, yesterday proposed the China task force act, a package of 137 pieces of legislation, seven of which involve Taiwan, in the hope of getting it passed before the 117th US Congress convenes on Jan. 3. The act encompasses a wide range of issues, including combatting Beijing’s influence around the globe, establishing the US’ dominance in determining 5G network standards and means for bringing UN members to task for abusing their influence within the UN system. The seven acts involving Taiwan address concerns such as the Taiwan Assurance Act
Chinese health authorities investigating a COVID-19 outbreak have said that they discovered live coronavirus on frozen food packaging, a finding that suggests the virus can survive in cold supply chains. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday said that it had found traces of live COVID-19 on the outer packaging of frozen cod in the eastern city of Qingdao, marking the first time that live coronavirus has been detected on the outside of refrigerated goods. Researchers were investigating the source of a cluster of cases linked to a hospital in Qingdao. Genetic traces had previously been found in samples of
A Chinese soldier apprehended earlier this week by the Indian Army after he strayed across a tense de facto border was on Tuesday night handed back to China, an Indian government source in New Delhi said yesterday. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldier had on Monday been captured in the Demchok area of eastern Ladakh, the Indian Army said in a statement. The Chinese military also released a statement, saying that Corporal Wang Yalong was handed over early yesterday. New Delhi on Monday said that it had detained Wang after he crossed into Indian-controlled territory, while China announced that Wang had gotten