Chinese fighter pilots will have to learn Russian in order to fly their new, state-of-the-art, Russian-made Sukhoi Su-35 multirole fighter aircraft to be delivered later this year. While the planes will be fitted with BeiDou navigations systems, which are in Chinese, the rest of the planes readouts will be in Russian, according to Sputnik News.
The on-board systems of the military aircraft will be essentially configured the same way as the warplanes supplied to the Russian Aerospace Forces. The planes were built by state-run Rostec subsidiary Radio-Electronic Technology Concern, KRET. whose deputy CEO Givi Janjgava told Russian newspaper Izvestia that the decision to supply Su-35 aircraft to China in this particular configuration was made by the customer. "Adapting onboard systems in accordance with our customer's national specifications is one of the most important technical procedures. We spent the entire year translating all data readout systems in the cockpit into Chinese. However, unlike Cyrillic and Latin inscriptions, logograms are hard to read from LCD screens. Therefore, the Chinese side requested that we leave everything 'as is', considering that PLA pilots already have experience in flying Russian Su-27s with cockpits not adapted for China, and learned to 'read' onboard information in Russian," Janjgava said.
He explained that Su-35 features a glass cockpit, with LCD screens replacing traditional analog dials and gauges. However, data presented on Su-35 screens in Chinese logograms is too small and blurred to be legible. While the problem could have technically been solved by installing bigger displays, it would have essentially required remodeling the entire cockpit thus requiring additional funding and more time for testing and development. Therefore, after considering the situation and consulting with PLA pilots, the Chinese decided to leave things as is, and use the Russian ‘configuration’ of the aircraft without any alterations.