A Russian Su-35. (Internet photo)
Senior figures within the People's Liberation Army Air Force have doubts as to whether the purchase of Su-35 fighters from Russia serves the interests of the Chinese military aviation industry, according to the Taipei-based Central News Agency (CNA) in an interview with Andrei Chang or Pinkov, a Canada-based military analyst.
At a press conference at the Singapore Air Show of 2014, Mikhail Pogosyan, the general director of United Aircraft Corporation, said Russia is unlikely to support China copying its advanced fighters again as it did in the 1990s. Copying the fighters of other nations will not bring any major improvements to the Chinese aviation industry, especially since the Su-35 is not a new fighter, and China should design its own advanced fighter, Pogosyan said.
The Su-35 does not guarantee air superiority for the PLA Air Force in the next 10 years, a professor from the PLA Air Force Command College said in a commentary for the PLA Daily, the official newspaper of China's armed forces. A similar view is shared by many influential figures in the Chinese military, Pinkov said. The current consensus reached between Beijing and Moscow will see 24 Su-35s with Saturn AL-41s engines — also known as 117S — to China.
Nonetheless, the two sides have not reached any agreement yet regarding the transfer of the Su-35's technology to China. Even though Russia is trying to terminate its cooperation with China in designing new fighters, Pogosyan said it will be more suitable for both nations to help each other in building wide-body commercial aircraft.