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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

China to Buy Russian Jets

NEW YORK -- Russia and China have concluded a deal in which Russia will provide the Chinese air force with 72 high-performance fighter jets that had been promised for several years, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Chinese military leaders have been pressing their government for some time to upgrade air and naval forces, but the deal's timing is significant because of the growing tension between China and Taiwan.

Taiwan is to begin taking delivery of 150 American F-16 fighter jets and 60 French Mirage 2000 fighter-bombers later this year. Last year, Taiwan began deploying the first squadrons of its own new fighter, which is based on the F-16 design.

The United States has also recently provided Taiwan with airborne command and surveillance aircraft which have given its air force air command superiority over China, the Times reported.

It has been known since 1992 that Russia was selling high-performance Su-27 jets to China. But the deal became stalled after only 24 jets were delivered because of disagreement over the method of payment.

The deal to continue the sales was reached in December, the Times said, during a visit to Moscow by China's senior uniformed military leader, Admiral Liu Huaqing.

It was kept secret until Friday, when the Russian air force commander, General Pyotr Dneikin, said in Moscow that Russia had sold China the license for Su-27 production in a deal worth more than $2 billion. Word of the sale of the 72 planes then leaked out.