There’s a story doing the internet rounds that back in the early 1990s, China swapped 180,000 dog pelts for each Su-27 fighter jet supplied to them by Russia.
It broke late last month to little fanfare, but was picked up in recent days by 4chan, whose users are notorious trolls. So until we can confirm the story, which we’re in the process of, take it with a grain of salt.
According to Sina Weibo, this is military expert Du Wenlong appearing on Yunnan TV claiming the barter terms set by the Russians “created a lot of difficulties” for China.
“China’s dogs made a great contribution to the modernization of the nation’s air force,” Du Wenlong reportedly said.
At the time, the deal suited both countries. China was comparatively cash-strapped to where it is now, and Russia wasn’t much better, requiring furs, flashlights and thermoses to get it through winter and associated power cuts.
Authorities across three provinces in China were set to work “killing all the dogs”.
It’s true that between 1991 and 2009, China took an initial consignment of 18 Su-27SK and 6 Su-27UBK fighters under the “906 Project”.
It was the first time Russia had exported the plane to a foreign nation.
From the first batch (1991-1995), 70% of the Su-27s were indeed paid for with barter transactions involving “light industrial goods and food”. After that, Russia would only accept US dollars.
So if the story about the pelts is true, that means around 14 Su-27s were traded for something other than cash. How many were traded for dog pelt coats is anyone’s guess.
Du Wenlong reportedly said it takes 18 dogs to make a dog pelt coat. The Su-27s were traded at 10,000 pelts apiece, hence the “180,000 dogs” per jet line. But a single jet costs $US30 million, which would price a single dog pelt from China in the 90s at $US166 apiece.
That’s unlikely, but who knows how desperate the Russians were in the 90s?
We’ll let you know if we can get any kind of confirmation on the story. If it’s true, it’s pretty crazy.
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