Russia Eyeing $3 bln in New Arms Contracts

Russia, the world’s second largest arms exporter, may seal three new
orders worth more than $3 billion for fighter aircraft over the next
year, the top Russian defence think tank CAST said on Thursday.

The new orders would be a boon to an industry which has watched its
export market shrink after the Arab Spring revolutions and been
criticised at home by President Dmitry Medvedev over the quality of its
weapons systems.

India is looking to sign a new $2 billion
contract for 40 Sukhoi-30MKIs, according to CAST data, and the Russian
Defence Ministry itself may soon sign a deal for 24 Mikoyan-29Ks to
renew the ageing fleet on its sole aircraft carrier.
“There is a very strong chance that the Indian air
force may sign a contract to buy up to 40 Su-30MKI fighters, even by
the end of this year,” CAST Director Ruslan Pukhov said.

The Su-30MKI was developed by both Russia and Hindustan Aeronautics, and travels at 1,300 miles per hour at altitude.

“They can’t get enough of Russian arms,” Pukhov said of India.

India, cautiously watching regional rival China’s growing military
might, has been the top importer of Russian arms, and the two countries
are working on a fifth-generation fighter in a deal reported to be worth
around $35 billion.

Delivery of the supersonic jet is expected to begin in 2017.

A Russian fighter was cut from the shortlist in an $11 billion fighter tender in April in favour of two European variants.

“There was a political component to their decision. They knew that they
were buying too many arms from the Russians and they knew for diplomatic
reasons they had to start balancing out their suppliers,” said Pukhov.

The $960 million contract for 24 Mi-29Ks, expected to be signed next
year, is for Russia’s aircraft carrier, which currently relies on
outdated Su-33 planes.

Another deal will be for six Yak-130 light attack aircraft originally
intended for Libya before the United Nations imposed an arms embargo on
Tripoli, cutting Moscow off from $2 billion in signed deals and another
$2 billion in potential contracts.

The top customer for the light attack aircraft is Kazakhstan which is
trying to boost its regional clout, Pukhov said, citing defence industry
sources.

Russia’s arms exports rose to a near-record $10 billion last year and
are expected to stay around there for the next few years — though
Middle East violence has since threatened those forecasts.

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