China and Russia are considering changes to a government-to-government agreement covering Beijing's licensed production of 200 Sukhoi Su-27SKs, to encompass a more advanced version of the single-seat interceptor.

China signed a deal over a decade ago to acquire 200 aircraft in kit form in batches of 105 and 95, and the first of these has now been delivered in full. Sixty aircraft are believed to have been assembled to date, with a further 10 scheduled for completion by year-end. All 105 aircraft from the first production batch are expected to be in air force service by early 2007, with all 200 to be in use by 2010-12.

Consideration is now being given to acquiring the second batch in an enhanced configuration, with China's earlier aircraft to be upgraded to this standard later. Russia is offering China the upgraded Su-27SKM, which includes a glass cockpit, precision navigation systems, in-flight refuelling equipment and the ability to deploy advanced Russian precision-guided weapons.

Consultations on a possible specification change for China's second batch of aircraft must be concluded by year-end to enable Sukhoi's KnAAPO plant to order mission equipment. China is the company's only customer for new-build Su-27s. China is, meanwhile, also considering placing an order for additional Su-27UBK twin-seat operational trainers from NPO Irkut's IAPO plant to support its future Su-27s.

Meanwhile, deliveries of the Su-30MK-2 twin-seat multirole fighter are continuing from KnAAPO, with 24 set to enter service with China's navy from early 2005. Sukhoi is also promoting its upgraded Su-30MK-3 to China, with this able to carry the Raduga Kh-59MK anti-ship missile, which has a range of almost 300km (160nm). The company says Su-30MK-3 testing has been suspended following an initial series of weapons trials and will resume only if a customer is found for the aircraft.


Source: Flight International