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China to Receive First Su-35 Jets in 2016

In a move bound to help the Kremlin’s strained finances, Russia will start supplying Su-35 fighter jets to China in the 4th quarter of 2016, a military-diplomatic source was quoted by Russian media on Friday.

“Supplies of fighter jets will start in the 4th quarter of this year. For now, everything goes according to plan,” a Russian military official was quoted by Tass agency.

Arms sales are a bright spot in an otherwise uncertain economic picture for Russia, whose economy is suffering from weak oil prices and Western sanctions over the Ukraine conflict.

In November, Russian state conglomerate Rostec said China will buy 24 Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets from Russia in a deal worth more than $2 billion.

Russia said the contract will be fulfilled in three years.

Russia’s United Instrument Manufacturing Corporation told TASS that the production of modernized communication systems S-108 for Su-35 jets has already started.

The deal makes China the first foreign buyer of the Su-35, one of Russia’s most advanced military aircraft, and is one of the largest contracts for military jets ever signed between the two countries.

Indonesia, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates have also expressed interest in purchasing Su-35 jets, according to Rostec.

Sino-Russian talks on the sale of the jet had been held up owing to negotiations over price, technology transfer and the share of Chinese-made components in the plane.

The Su-35, the latest-generation Russian fighter, is expected to provide a powerful boost to the Chinese air force.

China and India are still the key customers for Russian arms, although Moscow is eyeing new markets in Algeria, Indonesia, Venezuela and Vietnam.

The Su-35 fighter jet (NATO reporting name Flanker-E) is an upgraded version of the Su-27 multirole fighter.

China overtook Germany as Russia’s largest trading partner in 2011.

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