The Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force could be making a substantial addition to its ranks in the next few years, as Russia's Sukhoi is prepared to deliver its most advanced fighter, the Su-35, to supplement one of the world's largest air forces. According to Jane's, though, the PLAAF might not be interested in simply flying the new fighter.

The contract for the fighters, which Sukhoi's First Deputy Director General Boris Bregman expects to be signed in the next few months, will kick start a process that should result in planes in Chinese hands in 2016. The delay is due to the necessary localization of the fighter's systems and flight controls, Jane's reports.

There is still the potential for a hang up on the deal, as Jane's cites industry sources that claim Russia is insisting on a minimum procurement. That number has been dropped from the original 48 aircraft, to just 24, with Russian concern that China will simply reverse-engineer the fighters (Chinese copying isn't limited to just cars and luxury goods, the PRC is currently flying a reverse-engineered Su-27 called the Shenyang J-11). According to Jane's, Russia is particularly worried that China is simply making the deal to gain access to the Su-35's advanced engine and radar systems.

Officially, Sukhoi's parent company, United Aircraft Corporation, doesn't seem concerned.

"I believe that there is no direct danger," UAC President Mikhail Pogosyan told Jane's. "It is very difficult to make a copy of a high-tech product as there is more to it than meets the eye. As of today I don't know the cases when the copy could achieve global success on the world aircraft market."

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