China Receives Su-35 'Flanker-E' Fighter Jets from Russia: Report
China has received four Sukhoi Su-35 "Flanker-E" fighter jets from Russia in late December 2015, the China Daily reported without providing further details.
However, live flight-tracking website Flightradar24 noted that an Ilyushin Il-76 transport aircraft manufactured by Russian charter firm Volga-Dnepr was seen flying from Komsomolsk-on-Amur, where the Su-35 is built by Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association (KnAAPO), to Cangzhou-Cangxian Airbase in China's Hebei Province.
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The plane then reportedly headed to Suixi Airbase in Guangdong Province on Dec. 25, which is the nearest Chinese airbase to the South China Sea, the Defense News noted.
Cangzhou-Cangxian is apparently the home of the People's Liberation Army Air Force's Flight Test and Traning Center, which is responsible for coming up with flying procedures, combat tactics, and training programs for new aircrafts.
Sputnik News, however, noted that it is not known if the Il-76 was travelling with the PLAAF Su-35 jets or it only carried support equipment and spares for the new fighter units. The Chinese government has so far not released any official photos of the Su-35 jets, but blurry images are making rounds across the Internet and are believed to be the PLAAF Su-35.
Last November, China confirmed that it inked a $2 billion contract with Russia to acquire 24 Su-35 jets after five years of intermittent negotiations.
According to IHS Jane, the Russian-made Su-35 jets could be the last combat aircraft to be imported by China as the country now "takes pride" of the "indigenous, cutting-edge HQ-9B long-range surface-to-missile and Y-20 strategic transport aircraft," China Daily reported citing statements by the People's Liberation Army's website.
"We hope very much that the Su-35 will be the last [combat] aircraft China imports," it added.