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Russia to deliver Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets to China

By Elizabeth Shim
Russia to deliver Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets to China
Russia’s Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets may be delivered to China on an accelerated timeline, according to multiple press reports. File Photo by Sergey Vladimirov/Flickr

BEIJING, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- The first four planes in a batch of Russian Sukhoi-35 fighters may be delivered to China by the end of 2016, according to multiple reports.

Russia's TASS news agency and China's Global Times reported the fighter jets are to arrive in China in December.

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TASS' source said the "first four Sukhoi-35 are to fly over to China by Dec. 25," but Sergey Chemezov, the head of Russia's Rostec Corp., said no Sukhoi-35 planes would be delivered to China in 2016.

Rostec is a Russian state holding company that promotes the development of defense sector technology.

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According to the Global Times, however, the four planes are scheduled for delivery by the end of the year, which is taking place on an accelerated timeline.

The Chinese newspaper's source said it was the Russian side that decided to "speed up" delivery.

The fighter jets are strategically positioned to match the United States' F-35 and F-15 aircraft in capability, according to South Korean news service News 1.

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China may need the Sukhoi-35 as tensions escalate with Japan over disputed territory in the East China Sea and with neighboring countries over islets in the South China Sea, according to the report.

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The F-35, the U.S. military's next-generation fighter jet, was recently at the center of attention when U.S. President-elect Donald Trump tweeted the cost of building the latest aircraft is spiraling "out of control."

Lockheed Martin has estimated $400 billion for F-35 development, according to the South China Morning Post.

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The Hong Kong-based newspaper reported China's J-20 stealth fighter is comparable to the F-35, but may have been developed at a fraction of the cost.

Zhou Chenming, a military commentator, told the Post that the "price of Chinese self-developed military weapon is normally one-fifth to one-third of the price of a similar U.S. weapon."

The J-20 may also have longer range, more internal fuel capacity and larger internal weapons capability, according to the report.

China currently deploys the Chengdu J-10, but may have agreed to purchase the Sukhoi-35 because of its more advanced engine technology.

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