The Beijing controlled Global Times reports China will purchase Russia's Su-57 fifth-generation fighters in a move that will expand strategic relations between both countries.
Viktor Kladov, director for international cooperation and regional policy at Rostec, announced at the 2019 Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) in Malaysia, an export version of the Su-57, dubbed Su-57E, will receive export approval from Russian President Vladimir Putin in a few weeks.
Kladov said, "China has recently taken delivery of 24 Su-35 aircraft, and in the next two years [China] will make a decision to either procure additional Su-35s, build the Su-35 in China, or buy a fifth-generation fighter aircraft, which could be another opportunity for the Su-57E."
Global Times said, "China [was] to be offered Russia’s best warplane." However, citing an interview with Wang Yongqing, chief designer at Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, Global Times said, integrating another stealth fighter into the fleet could raise challenges for China’s J-20 stealth fighter program. Yongqing said the Su-57E could be helpful for a "technical study" on stealth technologies.
As per Jane’s Defence Weekly, Kladov said Middle Eastern customers have been interested in the Su-57E as a cheap alternative to the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.
The plane is expected to be unveiled at the Dubai Air Show later this year. Kladov said India and China are expected to be the first customers in the Asia-Pacific region.
However, Aerospace Knowledge's chief editor Wang Ya'nan said although he is satisfied with Russia's stealth plane, there are some conflicts of interest because China has already developed the J-20.
China is in the midst of tweaking the J-20 before series production, which is expected to begin in the near term, Ya'nan told the Global Times.
Several Su-57s were reportedly battle-tested in Syria in 1Q18. In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the Su-57 the world's best fighter jet.
China's potential acquisition of Russian stealth planes comes at a time when the U.S. is constructing an F-35 friends circle around both countries.
With Cold War 2.0 underway, the rapid deployment of stealth jets across the Eastern Hemisphere by NATO and the U.S. and China/Russia hint that the odds of a significant conflict will dramatically increase beyond 2020.