The Russian Government has reportedly signed a contract for the first-ever export of its S-400 Triumf air defence and missile system.
Signed recently between Russia state-arms-exporter Rosoboronexport and the Chinese Defence Ministry, the $3bn contract covers the supply of at least six S-400 battalions, as reported by Vedomosti.
The S-400 sale was being discussed by the two countries for several years.
The Russian Defence Ministry announced in 2011 that exports would start only after 2016, when requirements of the Russian Armed Forces are met.
Design bureau Almaz is responsible for the development of the S-400 Triumf. It is a long-to-medium-range surface-to-air missile system, designed to intercept a range of ground-based and airborne targets, such as stealth aircraft, strategic carriers and cruise and ballistic missiles at a distance of 400km.
The S-400 is code-named the SA-21 Growler. It is an upgrade of the S-300 missile system and features three different missiles, including the extremely long-range 40N6, 48N6 long-range and a 9M96 medium-range missile.
Apart from China, the system has also attracted interest from a number of foreign countries, including Saudi Arabia, Belarus, and Turkey, according to Vedomosti.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s inventory already includes the S-300 long-range air defence system.
Apart from the S-400 sale, Russia has also agreed to supply ‘standard’ versions of the Su-35 fighter aircraft to China.
Sukhoi first deputy director general Boris Bregman was quoted by IHS Jane’s as saying: "During talks, we informed the Chinese side that we can supply a standard version of the Su-35 fighter, which has been fully completed, tested, and received Russian Air Force certification.
"I think that the contract will be signed at the end of 2014 or at the beginning of 2015."
Any modifications, including integration of different enhancements, additional algorithms, and Chinese-language user interfaces, to meet customer requirements would be carried out under a supplementary contract.
Russia and China have recently agreed to strengthen military-industrial ties and also increase the number of joint naval exercises.
Image: A transport erector launcher of the S-400 Triumf air defence system in Moscow, Russia. Photo: courtesy of UMNICK.