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Despite long standing ties with India, Russia may sell Su-35 Flanker-E fighter to Pakistan

In what would potentially be the largest defence deal between the two countries, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is in talks with Russia to buy Su-35 ‘Flanker-E’ fighter aircraft, say IHF Janes reports.

A senior Pakistani government official shared the information while responding to Russian media reports that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov had said talks were underway for an unspecified number of Su-35s, which follow a recent agreement to provide Mi-35M ‘Hind E’ attack helicopters to Islamabad.

Though no decision has been made yet and no terms of the deal have been disclosed, discussions between the two countries shows Russia’s willingness to sell advanced hardware to Pakistan despite Moscow’s longstanding ties with India.

The official said Pakistan’s interest in the Su-35 was driven by the PAF’s need for a twin-engine fighter “that can fly for a longer range than the JF-17 and penetrate more deeply into the enemy’s territory”.

The PAF flies a mixed fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16s, Dassault Mirage-5s, Chinese-manufactured F-7s, and the JF-17 Thunder, which is jointly produced by China and Pakistan.

In November 2014 a senior Pakistani official told IHS Jane’s that Pakistan was in discussions with China to buy 30 to 40 FC-31s – the export version of China’s J-31 fifth-generation platform.

At the time, the official had told IHS Jane’s that Pakistan was interested in the platform partly because it was fitted with two RD-93 Russian Klimov engines, which also powers the JF-17. PAF officials have also told IHS Jane’s in the past that they have considered the purchase of up to 40 Chengdu J-10 fighters.

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