Beijing has taken delivery of four Sukhoi Su-35 fighter aircraft, the first installment in an acquisition that will see it acquire 24 examples.

The four aircraft arrived on 25 December at a PLAAF flight-training center in Cangzhou, in China’s northeastern Hebei Province, said the website. Russia’s TASS news agency had previously reported that the first four Su-35s were to “fly over to China” by the same time. China confirmed in November 2015 that it signed a $2 billion contract with Russia for the acquisition of 24 Su-35s, following more than five years of on-again, off-again negotiations for the aircraft. Andreas Rupprecht, author of three books on Chinese military aviation and industry, told Defense News that one of the reasons China is keen on acquiring the Su-35 is to access modern Russian engine technology in the form of the Saturn AL-41F1S (117S) afterburning turbofan engine and the associated thrust-vectoring capability of the super-maneuverable Su-35.

China’s primary fighter focus resides in the J-20. This aircraft, which first appeared in 2010, is a large, twin-engine jet boasting canards and a twin-canted tail. Social media reports from China have covered its flight test campaign exhaustively. Reportedly, it has entered low-rate initial production.