China is likely to receive the first batch of Su-35 fighters from Russia between 2017 and 2018, if the contract can be signed this year, according to Kanwa Defense Review, a Chinese-language military magazine based in Canada.
The first Russian unit to receive the Su-35 was the air force training center located at Lipetsk Oblast. Like Russia, China is likely to equip the tactical training center of the People's Liberation Army Air Force in Guangzhou with Su-35 fighters. Three frontline units of the PLA Air Force will likely receive Su-35 fighters due to their experience of operating the Su-30Mkk fighters.
They are the 9th regiment of the 3rd Division, the 85th Regiment of the 29th Division and the 54th Regiment of the 18th Division according to the article. Due to their proximity to the disputed East China Sea and Taiwan Strait, the 9th Regiment stationed in Wuhu, Anhui province is likely to be the first among those three units to get Su-35 fighters. As for the 85th and 54th Regiments, their mission is to defend the Chinese interest over the disputed South China Sea from the Guangzhou Military Region.
Russia has decided to sell only 24 Su-35 fighters to China. Since some of those fighters will be deployed to the tactical training center in Guangzhou, the article claims that fewer than 24 Su-35 are going to serve with frontline units of the PLA Air Force. At the same time, Su-30MKKs from those three regiments are likely to be transferred to other air force units. With more advanced Russian-built fighters, the fighting capability of the PLA Air Force will improve gradually.