Russia to sell strategic bomber planes to China

It is not ruled out that Russia might arm a potential enemy

General Vladimir Mikhailov, the Air Force commander, gave a press conference on January 13th, at which he summed the results of the year 2004. The general also talked about perspective plans of the Russian aviation for 2005. According to Mikhailov, the Russian Air Force conducted about 400 events and accomplished all goals successfully. “We have preserved the previously achieved level of training and advanced forward on certain other issues too,” the general told reporters. Mikhailov also said that there would be quite a number of military exercises conducted in 2005 despite economic difficulties. 

The Russian government has been assigning considerable funds for the needs of the Armed Forces recently, although it still leaves many unsolved financial problems. The most important one of them – a lack of combustive and lubricating materials – exerts a direct influence on the level of pilots' professionalism. The current situation is a lot better in comparison with the end of the 1990s, of course, when training flights were minimized to the maximum so to speak. Vladimir Mikhailov said that the situation has been improving considerably over the recent years. It is impossible, however, to say that the Russian Air Force is completely satisfied with fuel supplies – they are still insufficient. It became quite a surprising revelation, when the general said that the Air Force had acquired almost 65 percent of kerosene owing to commercial transport flights. “Such measures give pilots a possibility to train their piloting skills at international flights,” Vladimir Mikhailov said. The general, however, hopes that the vital problem of the Russian aviation would be solved.

Vladimir Mikhailov said that the Russian Air Force acquired about 20 new planes last year. He singled out seven Su-27SM fighters that were added to the arsenal in December of 2004. The capacities of the fighters are approximated to the planes of the fifth generation. The funding of the Air Force increased by 30 percent in 2005 as opposed to 2004. It will give an opportunity to acquire 17 other planes during the current year.

The modernization of MIG-29 pursuit planes will start in 2005 too. The renowned Russian helicopter Mi-28 will also be modernized in compliance with modern requirements. ABM troops will have a new S-400 missile system in the arsenal, which has no analogues anywhere in the world. The tests of the Su-34 bomber plane are to be over in the near future too.

Vladimir Mikhailov touched upon the military hardware of the future too. It goes about a universal jet of the fifth generation, which is tentatively called “The perspective aviation complex.” According to the general, an electronic model of the future plane has been recently presented for the Air Force command. “The work of the complex is being conducted strictly according to the schedule. The tests are slated for 2007,” Mikhailov said.

Experts and scientists, however, say that it will be possible to create a pursuit plane of the fifth generation only by 2012-2015. Americans plan to launch the serial production of a new jet already in four years.

In addition to all above-mentioned facts, the Russian Air Force Commander does not exclude a possibility to sell Tu-22M3 and Tu-95 bomber planes to China. “We could sell a certain quantity of Tu-22M3 and Tu-95 planes to China,” Mikhailov told reporters at the press conference. “We will demonstrate the planes at a joint military exercise to make China get interested. If they have money, let them buy the planes,” Mikhailov said. Spokespeople for the Russian defense export enterprise Rosoboronexport refused to comment the general's statement.

It is noteworthy that China does not have up-to-date bomber planes of a large range. It only has the outdated Tu-16: the USSR handed over the production license for this bomber plane to China in the 1950s. Tu-16 planes do not pose any serious danger to China's major potential enemy – Taiwan. The Tu-22M3 outfitted with modern Russian missiles, can be a threat even to the vessels of the US Navy approaching Taiwan. Until recently, Russian military men refused to sell the Tu-22M3 bomber to China on account of the plane's power, the Vedomosti newspaper wrote.

The serial production of the Tu-22M3 was ceased in Russia in 1991. China, therefore, will be able to buy the planes of the Russian Air Force arsenal, which currently counts 130 planes of this particular model. It would be reasonable for China to purchase not less than 40 planes – this would be a group of planes to guarantee the destruction of a group of American aircraft carriers. A batch of 40 planes would cost over a billion dollars.

The state needs money, of course, albeit not at the expense of the national security. It is not ruled out that Russia might arm a potential enemy.

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Author`s name Olga Savka