Russia’s sale of 24 Sukhoi Su-35 to China for US$200 million works out to approximately US$83 million per unit, a bargain price compared to some of the Western origin front line fighter aircraft in the world.
In comparison, the French Rafale cost approximately US$200 million apiece in recent contracts with Egypt and Qatar and a figure close to that in an expected contract with India.
While details of when the deal was signed or who signed it have not been disclosed in information released to the Russian media by top executives of Russia’s Rostec Corporation, it has coincided with the visit of a high level Chinese delegation to Moscow on November 18.
The delegation comprising Xu Qiliang, vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission (CMC), Yi Xiaoguang, deputy chief of general staff of the PLA, and Liu Sheng, deputy director of the PLA General Armament Department, Liu Yi, deputy commander of the PLA Navy, and Zhang Honghe, deputy commander of the PLA Air Force held talks with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow on the morning of November 18, 2015, according to official information released to the Chinese media.
The Su-35 is a long-range “4 plus plus generation” fighter jet. Similar fourth generation fighters include the Dassault Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon. It is armed with an internal 30mm cannon and has 12 hard-points with a combined capacity of 8,000 kg of weapons load, compatible with a wide range of unguided and guided missiles and bombs.
The Su-35 has been designed for air superiority against not only fighter jets but also low flying helicopters and even drones. It can fire air to ground precision weapons as has been demonstrated in Syria.
China was earlier reported to be negotiating for an order of over 48 aircraft, a majority of which were to be made under licence in China. However, the reduced order of 24 planes would not have any manufacturing or assembly in China, Russian media reported.