China-Russian Alliance Intensified against the USPosted: July 29, 2016
In my post “Details of China’s New Advanced J-11B Fighter Jet”, I give National Interest’s description of China’s advanced J-11B fighter jet in its article titled “China Stole This Fighter From Russia—and It’s Coming to the South China Sea” on July 24. The article first of all tells readers how China has stolen technology from Russia in modernizing its air force.
It begins with the following paragraphs:
The Shenyang J-11 is a Chinese copy of the excellent Russian Sukhoi Su-27 “Flanker” multirole fighter. In fact, it was at first an authorized copy—but Chinese ambitions to adapt it with locally produced technology transformed it into a reverse-engineered headache for Russian industry. In successive variants, the J-11 and the Flanker-derived J-15 and J-16 have been at the forefront of Chinese efforts to produce long-range fourth-generation fighters that can contest the seas around China—if only Chinese engineers can work out the kinks in their domestically produced jet engines.
I’ve written before about the latest version of the Su-27, the Su-35, but let’s review the basics. The Flanker was a late Cold War design that in most respects served as a Russian counterpart to the F-15 Eagle: a “heavy,” but maneuverable, twin-engine multirole fighter that can fly at high speeds across long distances with a heavy missile or bomb load. The early Flanker can pull off even tighter maneuvers than the relatively agile F-15, and originally came with better short-range air-to-air missiles (the R-73); however, it lagged behind later F-15s in terms of sensors, though not nearly as much as its lighter stablemate, the MiG-29 Fulcrum.
All in all, this means the Su-27 was a top shelf fighter in the early nineties, when China became the first country outside of the former Soviet world to operate Flankers: thirty-eight Su-27SKs and forty Su-27UBK two-seat trainers acquired between 1992 and 2000, for between $30 and $40 million apiece. The Su-27SKs came with Russian R-27 and R-73 air-to-air missiles, but had little capability for advanced air-to-ground munitions—though China insisted the Flankers’ landing gear come strengthened so they could accommodate a heavier bomb load.
Post-Soviet Russia was then entering especially tough economic times—some of the Flanker payments were made in food in-kind!—and these sales were away to help keep the economy afloat. China, for its part, had recently lost access to the American and European defense markets following the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
However, in 1995 the Chinese said they weren’t interested in buying more finished aircraft from Russia—but would pay for the license to assemble Su-27 kits in China. Russia agreed on the condition that the engines and avionics would still be made in Russia. The deal was struck: two hundred Chinese-made aircraft—now designated J-11s—for $2.5 billion. So far, so legal.
China already had a tradition of producing domestic copies of Soviet tanks and aircraft dating back to the late fifties, when a falling out with the Soviet Union cut it off from foreign arms supplier. Now Russia had figured out a way to get paid for the copies!
Then a funny thing happened: in 2004, having already assembled one hundred aircraft, the Chinese cancelled the remainder of the contract, claiming the Su-27 no longer met their needs—true, in that they wanted fighters with precision-guided munition capabilities.
However, three years later China revealed that Shenyang Aircraft Corporation was producing the J-11B—without any Russian involvement. Though 90 percent of the J-11’s components were indigenously made, the airframe was nearly identical. Beijing had ducked out of paying for the whole contract and reverse-engineered the Flanker. The Russian arms industry was very upset, and growled about intellectual-copyright litigation for several years—but with China accounting for 40 percent of Russian military sales for the first eight years of the century, Russian manufacturers appear not to have retaliated in the end.
Russia did want to punish China for stealing its technology. Russian military industrial circle refused to sell China Russia’s advanced weapons including Su-35 fighter jet and S-400 air defense system. However, I said in my post on March 31, 2013 titled “Sino-Russian Arms Deals Are Political for Cold War Partnership”:
There have been reports that Russian military worries that providing China advanced weapons may threaten Russian security while Russian military industry circle worries that China may steal Russian technology by reverse engineering, but Russian President Putin insists that there should be the arms deals. Why? For the sake of Sino-Russian Cold War partnership against the US.
Now, the weapon trade and joint ventures for production of large aircrafts and helicopters between Russia and China have been proceeding smoothly. It proves that Russia has been financially compensated for the theft as China also attaches great importance to its de facto alliance with Russia.
Previously China sent its navy to the Mediterranean to conduct joint drill with Russia to support Russia’s moves against the US in Europe. Now, Reuters says in its report “China says to hold drills with Russia in South China Sea” today, that Russia is to send its navy to the South China Sea to conduct joint military drill with China to support China’s confrontation with the US.
All such military drills including those carried out by the US in the areas near China are routinely claimed to be not directed at third parties.
Who believes that?
Now, if either of Russia or China is attacked by the US, the other will lender help as it will be greatly weakened without its ally.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on National Interest’s article and Reuters’ report, which can respectively viewed at http://nationalinterest.org/feature/china-stole-fighter-russia%E2%80%94-its-coming-the-south-china-sea-17087 and http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southchinasea-china-drills-idUSKCN1080O8.