Russia’s Weapons Top Customer India

MOSCOW – India bought more Russian weapons last year than any other
country, and recent deals seem likely to solidify that status,
Alexander Fomin, the deputy director of the Russian Federal Service for
Military and Technical Cooperation, told Russian official ITAR-TASS
news agency Sept. 9.

A bilateral 2009 agreement set broad goals for military and technical cooperation, Fomin said.

 India and Russia have ended preliminary talks over an accord to
jointly develop fifth-generation fighter and will each pledge $6
billion to build an aircraft to challenge U.S. F-22 Raptor, Indian
Business Standard newspaper reported Sept. 11, quoting Ashok Nayak,
chairman of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The accord is
expected to be signed in December when the Russian President Dmitry
Medvedev visits India.

India surpassed China in 2007 with
purchases of Russian arms worth $1.5 billion. In 2008, Algeria pulled
ahead of India. But in 2009, New Delhi regained the lead, importing
Russian arms worth $1.78 billion, twice as much as China’s $848
million, according to the Center for Analysis of International Arms
Trade, a local think tank.

For the nearest four years – from 2010
to 2013 – India will remain the biggest client, accounting for 54.4
percent, or $15.16 billion, of the Russian foreign defense orders
portfolio for this period, according to the center. Vietnam’s orders
for this period come second in size, reaching $3 billion.
Indian
Air Force plan to procure 59 Mi-17 (NATO name: Hip) helicopters in
addition to the 80 ordered from Russia in 2008, The Times of India
reported Sept. 9, quoting Indian Defense Ministry officials.

A
source in the Russian government arms export agency Rosoboronexport
confirmed the ongoing talks and the 2008 contract, but refused to
disclose details other than saying that India will start receiving the
first helicopters by year’s end. Analysts here estimate that 139 Mi-17s
would cost about $2 billion.

On Sept. 9, Russia and India signed
an agreement to set up a joint venture to co-develop a multi-role
transport aircraft to replace the Indian Air Force’s obsolete An-12s
within the next decade, Fomin told reporters. Each country pledged $300
million to the effort to develop a 2,500-km range aircraft that can
carry 20 tons of cargo.

Also, a representative of Russia’s Irkut
company said Sept. 14 that talks are going on with India over buying 42
Su-30MKI fighter jets. India has already ordered 230 Su-30MKI assembly
kits from Irkut, which are being assembled by the HAL. Expert estimate
the price tag for each Su-30 fighter to be at about $40 million.