Russia has signed a long-awaited deal with the United States to buy its first aircraft in the world, with the agreement expected to boost the military-to-military ties between the two allies.
The agreement, which was signed in Moscow on Thursday, is expected to allow for the sale of about 1,200 F-22 Raptors, which Russia has long been looking to buy to counter the growing influence of China.
It also means that the Russian defence industry will have the ability to upgrade its air-to and air-ground weapons, which are currently limited to the F-16 and F-18.
The deal is expected also to allow Russia to upgrade the Fagot fighter jet, a key piece of the Russian air force.US President Donald Trump had threatened to cancel the deal over its potential to boost military-industrial ties with Moscow, but he has since backed the deal.
In a statement on Thursday he said that “Russia has a proven track record of purchasing military equipment from the United State”.
“While the United Kingdom, Germany, France and other nations are leading the world in military exports, Russia has continued to do business with the likes of China, Pakistan, North Korea and Iran,” Trump said.
“We must ensure that Russia never becomes the next China.
And we must continue to lead the world by example.”
A senior US official said that the deal had been reached before the US president left office.
“It was a deal before Mr Trump came to power, but it was very much on the agenda before he came to office,” the official said.
“We had some good discussions with the Russians and they have been working on this for a long time.”
But it is unlikely that the US will see the jets in service before Trump leaves office, as the US military is focused on fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Russia has been in a power struggle with the US since the fall of the Soviet Union, which brought with it the break-up of the USSR and the creation of the United Nations.
Russia also wants to join the US-led global anti-ISIS coalition, which has led to a number of conflicts in the region, including in Syria.
The Kremlin has said it is committed to a more peaceful, multipolar world and has said the Faktor-1 is the only aircraft that will be able to defeat the Islamic State group (IS, also known as ISIS).
It is also unclear how many Faktors the US might buy from Russia.US defense officials have said that a single fighter jet is essential to the fight against IS and other extremist groups.
“The F-15 will provide air superiority and deterrence for ground forces, while the Fokker is a close air support platform that will enable the F12 to engage targets from the air,” a US official told Al Jazeera.
“If the F15 is the sole aircraft carrier, then the F22 is a better option, which will also provide air dominance.”
Russia is also reportedly looking at the F30, a single-seat jet that can carry multiple aircraft, and is also believed to be working on the F110, a twin-engine, single-seater jet.
The US has already bought dozens of Russian military planes, including MiG-29Ks, MiG35s and Su-30MKIs, and has been pursuing deals with several other countries, including Egypt, Turkey and Israel.US-Russian relations have become strained over Russia’s role in Syria, where it is fighting against the Assad regime, and over Russia-backed rebel groups in Ukraine, where Washington has supported them.
The deal to buy the F35 is expected come after Russia launched its military operation in Syria last year, and US officials say it has since been successful in pushing back IS militants.
Russia was also reportedly considering selling a pair of MiG fighter jets to Iran.
However, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, which support the Assad government, have both been pressing the US to lift sanctions on Moscow over its role in the conflict in Syria and Ukraine.
Russia is currently in talks with Saudi Arabia and the United Emirates on possible sales of F-20 fighter jets.