Tags: China | Buys | More | Russian | Warships

China Buys More Russian Warships

Wednesday, 09 January 2002 12:00 AM

China announced it would purchase two more Russian-made Sovremenny-class destroyers. The purchase for the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) adds to the two operational Sovremenny destroyers, the Hangzhou and the Fuzhou, delivered to China in 1999 and 2000.

The Chinese warship purchase adds to a growing list of weapons sold to the PRC by Russia over the past 12 months. According to Itar-Tass, the Russian news agency, the two 956-M warships will incorporate new weapons, including a dedicated helicopter, SA-N-10 surface-to-air missiles, SS-N-22 Sunburn missiles and the newly developed SS-N-26 Yahont missile.

Unlike the Hangzhou and Fuzhou, which were assembled on hulls laid before the fall of the Soviet Union, the two destroyers will be new warships. The warships, designed by the Severnoye Design Bureau, are to be constructed from new hulls by the Northern Shipyard company located in St. Petersburg.

"Russian designers have managed to significantly improve combat performance of all weapons to be installed on the destroyers," stated Vladimir Yukhnin, head designer at Severnoye.

In 1996, the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy negotiated to buy the 956A destroyer Yekaterinburg and another 956A class destroyer named the Alexandr Nevskiy. The Yekaterinburg was delivered to the Chinese navy in 1999 as the Hangzhou, passing through the Strait of Taiwan with a combined Russian/Chinese crew. The Alexandr Nevskiy was delivered as the Fuzhou to the Chinese navy in November 2000.

Each Sovremenny warship is armed with eight supersonic 3M82 Moskit sea-skimming missiles, NATO code-name SS-N-22 "Sunburn." According to documents obtained from the U.S. Navy using the Freedom of Information Act, the Sunburn supersonic missile can be armed with a nuclear warhead 10 times the power of the atomic bomb used on Hiroshima.

The new contract worth over $1 billion, caps a bonus year for Russian defense contractors, which raked in over $4.4 billion in 2001. Almost half the $4 billion Russian sales were generated by large purchases of Sukhoi SU-27 fighter jets and SU-30 strike fighters by China.

Thirty of the SU-30 strike fighters have been delivered to the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) by Russia. The PLAAF is expected to field up to 600 SU-27 and SU-30 fighters by 2005.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia is now exporting arms to 60 countries, but warned against "excessively optimistic conclusions."

According to Putin, Russia has only just begun to restore arms export opportunities that were forfeited due to the fall of the Soviet Union and "to look at this field from a new economic and geopolitical position."

Referring to U.S. concern over Russian arms sales to Iran, Russian President Putin noted that profits from such military deals was measured by their "foreign policy consequences."

Defense analysts note that Iran is likely to be the third-largest importer of Russian weapons, behind China and India. In 2001 Iran acquired a limited number of Russian SA-10C Grumble surface-to-air missiles. The missiles are reportedly stationed outside Tehran. Iranian armed forces personnel have traveled to Moscow to receive training on the SA-10 system.

Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhjani noted during a recent visit to Moscow that future large purchases of Russian weapons are in the works.

However, Russia's largest arms buyer is China. According to the Dec. 26 edition of Russia's Vedemosti newspaper, Moscow and Beijing have just concluded a major agreement on missile defense.

Under the contract, Russia will supply the People's Liberation Army with an undisclosed number of S-300 PMU air defense batteries for a reported $400 million. The S-300 PMU is reported to be an advanced version of the SA-10C Grumble air defense missile. According to Russian missile makers, the new S-300 has anti-stealth capability and can shoot down ballistic missiles in an ABM mode.

According to the Russian report, the S-300 anti-missile systems are intended to protect China from attack by U.S. Patriot missiles. The Chinese allegation is curious, since the U.S. Patriot missile does not have a known surface-to-surface attack role. The Patriot is designed to serve as an anti-missile and air defense weapon.

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China announced it would purchase two more Russian-made Sovremenny-class destroyers.The purchase for the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) adds to the two operational Sovremenny destroyers, the Hangzhou and the Fuzhou, delivered to China in 1999 and 2000. The...
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2002-00-09
Wednesday, 09 January 2002 12:00 AM
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