Russia to sell its 5th generation stealth fighter to China

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By Richard Fisher, Geostrategy-Direct

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.

Russian Su-57 stealth fighter in flight. / Sputnik photo

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.

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