As per several Chinese military observers, including Hui Tong, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has received its first batch of four Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E multi-role fighters from Russia.
The four Su-35s were delivered to the PLAAF on 25 December, 2016.
Earlier in the month, TASS Russian News Agency reported that the PLAAF could begin receiving its Su-35s before or on Christmas Day.
Deliveries were originally scheduled to begin in 2017, but Beijing and Moscow had come to an agreement to accelerate the process to ensure that the first planes would arrive in China before the end of 2016.
China ordered 24 Su-35 Flanker-Es in November 2015 for USD $2 billion. Alongside the aircraft, the deal included logistics and maintenance support, the latter also including spare engines.
Manufactured by United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), the Su-35 Flanker-E is the latest variant of the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker-series of air superiority fighters. Although it retains the Flanker’s general design profile, the Flanker-E exhibits various improvements, particularly in terms of radar cross-section (RCS) reduction.
As per Hui Tong, the remaining 20 Su-35s will be delivered in 2017 and 2018 with ten units expected in each year.
Notes & Comments:
This is purely speculation, but the use of Russian Air Force (VVS) livery on the PLAAF’s Su-35s indicates that these units came from stocks intended for VVS. This makes sense considering that the order was, reportedly, expedited.