Special to WorldTribune.com
Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to quickly approve the foreign sale of the Sukhoi Su-57E, the export version of Russia’s most modern 5th generation combat aircraft despite past friction over Chinese reverse engineering.
Even though China has its first 5th generation fighter in service, the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation J-20, and is developing a second at its Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, there is a good chance that China will buy the Su-57E.
While Shenyang exploited previous fighter sales, blatantly copying Sukhoi’s Su-27 as its J-11 fighter series, and the twin-seat Sukhoi Su-30MKK as the J-16 twin-seat attack fighter, it is less likely that China will copy the Su-57.
Perhaps the main reason is that a copied Su-57 may not be required to supplement China’s indigenous 5th generation fighter designs. The J-20 is expected to evolve into other versions like a stealthy dedicated strike fighter. Furthermore, this would divert resource from China’s 6th generation fighter program.
After more than a decade of marketing and sales negotiations, in 2017 China took final delivery of 24 Sukhoi Su-35 fighters, the penultimate variant of its Su-27 Flanker that first flew in 1977.
The Su-35 will expose China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) to its aerodynamic improvements, better radar and electronics, and its more powerful 31-ton thrust Saturn AL-41F1S turbofans.