Photographs recently published on Chinese websites and social media confirm that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s (PLAAF’s) mysterious batch of Su-35 multi-role fighters are assigned to the 6th Brigade (the former 6th Air Regiment, 2nd Division) based at Suixi, in the southwestern Guangdong province, close to the South China Sea coast.
Photos of the jets now show the correct serial numbers applied. The previous serials were apparently only applied for the jets’ transfer from Russia.
A memorandum of understanding between Russia and China covering the sale of 24 Su-35s in an export configuration was agreed in November 2012. A firm contract was signed in November 2015. The first four aircraft were delivered in late December 2016 and all Su-35s should be delivered to the PLAAF by 2018.
According to Russia’s Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, the contract is valued at about US $2.5bn. The Chinese Su-35S features export-standard radar, identification friend or foe, electronic warfare and communications suite in addition to a newly integrated receiver for the indigenous BeiDou satellite navigation system.
In the latest issue of AFM, Andreas Rupprecht begins a Force Report on the PLAAF, with an examination of the origins and history to better understand the current issues faced by China and the latest developments within its armed forces.