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Talk of the Day -- China, Russia sign biggest arms deal in 10 years

2013/03/26 21:02:50

China reportedly has signed a deal with Russia to buy 24 Su-35 fighters and four Lada-class submarines in what is believed to be China's biggest arms purchase from Russia in a decade.

The agreement was signed before Chinese President Xi Jinping's recent visit to Moscow, according to a report on China's CCTV on Monday.

The report said it is China's first major weapons technology purchase from Russia in nearly a decade.

The followings are excerpts from the news coverage by major newspapers of the arms deal:

United Daily News:

The Su-35 is the latest remodeled version of the Su-27 fighter jet, and the Russian Air Force is currently refitting the planes.

The Su-35s are being fitted with new radar and generators, which will greatly enhance their reconnaissance and flight capability.

The remodeled aircraft is considered Russia's best fighter until its next-generation jets, which are capable of evading radar detection, go into service.

Meanwhile, CCTV reported that China will acquire four Lada-class submarines, Russia's latest diesel-fuel models. Two of the submarines will be built in Russia, and the other two in China, the report said.

The features of the submarine include its quietness and its air independent propulsion (AIP), which means it can stay underwater for up to three weeks.

China's self-made submarines reportedly also have AIP, but its decision to buy from Russia indicates that China is facing technological obstacles.

Observers have forecast that the two countries will sign more arms deals, with China acquiring S-400 long-range land-to-air missiles, AL-41 engine, Iluyshin IL-476 large transport planes and IL-78 mid-air refueling aircraft. (March 26, 2013)

China Times:

Since Xi Jinping assumed the post of chairman of the Central Military Commission late last year, he has been making frequent visits to military bases in his country.

This, coupled with the fact that China's military spending this year will increase by an annual 10.7 percent, may mean that Xi's China dream of a stronger China could be realized sooner rather than later.

The most noteworthy part of the arms deal is that both sides have agreed to cooperate on production, which involves export of technology.

On the other hand, Russia does not allow assembly out the Su-35 outside its borders. Until China's J-20 fighter jets come on stream, the Su-35s will fill the gap on China in air defense.

The Su-35s are expected to be delivered sometime after 2015. China's J-20s will not become operational until 2017.

In the international market, the Su-35 sells for US$65 million, while the four Lada-class submarine costs about US$2 billion.

It is estimated that China will spend about US$3.56 billion to procure the jet fighters and submarines. (March 26, 2013)

Liberty Times:

The arms deal signals more than just Beijing's aim to step up strategic cooperation with Russia to counter the U.S. rebalancing strategy in the Asia Pacific, according to a Taiwan scholar.

Yen Tiehlin, deputy executive director of the Center for Security Studies at National Chengchi University, said the procurement agreement also indicates that China has hit a bottleneck in the production of self-made weapons, and needs Russia's assistance.

Yen speculated that while China has managed to copy the Su-25, it has encountered some obstacles in its efforts to upgrade the model and therefore needs to buy the more advanced Su-35.

According to Yen, several reports in the United States have warned of the dangers of the military imbalance in the Taiwan Strait tipping even more in China's favor.

With China's acquisition of the weapons package from Russia, the threat to Taiwan will escalate, he said.

Meanwhile, with its limited budget, Taiwan can only continue to develop its asymmetric warfare, he said. (March 26, 2012)

(By Lilian Wu)
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