Wednesday, October 6, 2010

India, Russia to discuss new giant fighter jet deal

NEW DELHI — India and Russia will hold talks this week on a multi-billion-dollar deal to supply up to 250 advanced stealth fighter jets to the technology-starved Indian Air Force, officials said on Tuesday.

Experts say the deal could be worth 25 billion dollars, making it the biggest in India's military history....

A defence ministry official who did not want to be named said the contract would be the focus of talks on Saturday during a visit to India by Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov.

"These are ongoing talks and will definitely come up in the discussions," he told AFP.

The Times of India said New Delhi and Moscow aimed to ink the FGFA (Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft) preliminary design contract during a trip to India by President Dmitry Medvedev in December. Ministry officials declined to comment on the newspaper report.

On Monday, Air Force Chief P.V. Naik confirmed India would acquire the advanced jets from Russia, which supplies about 70 percent of Indian military hardware -- a legacy of the countries' Cold War ties.

"We are looking to induct 200 to 250 FGFA in phases from 2017," the air chief marshal told reporters, adding that about 50 percent of air force hardware was now out of date.

"Around 50 percent of our equipment is obsolete and needs to be replaced.

"Ten years ago we had no money for modernization. This caused some delays. Subsequent planning will fructify by 2014-15," he said.

The 30-ton FGFA aircraft -- priced at 100 million dollars each, according to the Times of India -- will have "very advanced avionics, stealth to increase survivability (and) enhanced lethality," Naik added.

India plans to mothball its mainstay MiG-21 Soviet-era fighter jets, which have earned the sobriquet "flying coffins" because of their dismal safety record.

The ministry official said India was also seeking 40 additional Sukhoi-30 frontline fighter planes from Russia.

"The original plan was to acquire 230 Sukhoi-MKI planes but the list has now grown to 270 and so far around 100 aircraft have been delivered to us," he said.

Experts estimate the Sukhoi deal would be worth 12 billion dollars.

India is building military airbases on its borders with China to thwart possible attacks.

"As and when more airbases come up in the east, more Sukhois will be added," the ministry official commented, adding the airforce was also on target to commission 20 locally-built Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) by 2011.

India is also poised to hand out a contract for 126 fighter jets as part of a separate 12-billion dollar deal for which six global aeronautical giants are in the race.

India is reportedly also negotiating a 3.5-billion dollar aircraft defence deal with the United States that will be signed in November when President Barack Obama visits the Indian capital.

The US agreement will see the Indian air force buy 10 C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft, which are expected to replace the ageing fleet of Russian Ilyushin Il-76s, India's Economic Times newspaper reported recently....

Boeing C-17 Globemaster III

BANGALORE: India and the United States are close to signing their biggest defence deal so far, just ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit to India early next month. According to sources, both countries are looking to get the $5.8-billion Boeing C-17 Globemaster-III transport aircraft deal signed just before Obama’s maiden visit to the country, thereby clearing the deck for a formal announcement.

However, in a separate twist, the deal could see India getting the ten C-17 Globemaster-III airlifters without a number of electronic systems, due to New Delhi’s steady refusal to sign two critical strategic security agreements, the Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and the Basic Exchange and Co-operation Agreement for geo-spatial co-operation.

While Boeing has said that India will get the most-updated version of C-17, speculation is rife that the country has already approached Israel and France to buy the necessary equipment as an alternative.

“The agreements don’t really matter, because India can approach Israel or France for it. But, it could get more expensive once you replace military-grade equipment with commercial-grade,” sources told ET. Recently, air chief marshal PV Naik also reiterated that the Indian Air Force’s operational capabilities will not be affected even if the country does not sign the two agreements. While negotiations are currently on at a feverish pace between the two governments, the details of the Globemaster-III agreement are yet to reach the finance minister’s office.

Once it’s approved, it will come before the Cabinet Committee on Security, which will give the final clearance, before the deal is announced.....

How China’s Jets Threaten Russia -- By Richard Weitz, The Diplomat

China’s suspected proclivity for copying weapons systems has made Russia wary of exporting its technology. Still, the Russians may one day end up with a taste for ‘Made in China’ hardware.

The China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, better known as ‘Airshow China,’ used to see Russian arms dealers descend on the event to peddle their wares to potential Chinese customers. Held every other year in the city of Zhuhai, the Russians were eager to persuade potential Chinese customers to part with their cash.

Read more ....

The Russian's may be suspicious of Chinese intent .... and justifiably so ..... but many in Russia are still open to the idea of selling to the Chinese their most advanced fighter jets.

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