In June the Russians and Chinese announced a deal under which China would license-produce Backfire (Tu-22M3) bombers for its navy, replacing the current unlicensed version of the old Soviet-era Badger (Tu-16). The Russians will provide two pattern aircraft, and the Chinese will build another 34, the reported Chinese designation being H-10. The Russians will supply the engines as the Chinese have found it difficult to produce reliable modern jet engines for other Russian or Russian-like aircraft.
Reportedly the Chinese have sought this deal since 1998. It is consistent with their stated desire to extend their naval reach well beyond the chain of islands off the Asian mainland. Past delays were due partly to Russian anger at the Chinese for buying limited quantities of aircraft and then reverse-engineering them. Another problem seems to have been fear that the Chinese would one day reclaim the vast territories tsarist Russia seized from them in Siberia. One reading of the deal is that the Russians badly need cash, and that arms sales, even dangerous ones, are a relatively easy way to get it.