Combat Jets Drive Russian Arms Sales; India Tops Export List
Russia won export orders for weapons exceeding $15 billion and delivered weapons worth $14 billion in 2012, compared with $13.2 billion of weapons in 2011. “Surely, Russia will continue cooperation with her traditional partners in the sphere of military-technical cooperation,” Russian president Vladimir Putin told a meeting of the government’s committee for military-technical cooperation with foreign countries in December. “But it is of not less importance to us to enter new markets, expand the nomenclature of deliveries and services.”
According to figures provided on the Russian president’s official website (www.kremlin.ru), the largest buyers of Russian weapons last year were India (27 percent), Algeria (21 percent) and Vietnam (18 percent). Russia also signed a breakthrough deal with Iraq worth $4.2 billion, which included Mi-28NE helicopters and Pantsir S1 air-defense systems.
Russia’s backlog of export orders for military equipment is estimated at $40 billion, down from the record of $50 billion in 2010. The backlog is expected to stay flat in the next three to four years and then gradually decrease.
Bangladesh Orders Yak-130s on Credit
Rosoboronexport, Russia’s arms vendor (Chalet B367 and Hall 4 Stand D187), used LIMA 2013 (in Langkawi, Malaysia, March 26 to 30) as its platform to report on its most recent achievements in military sales. For Bangladesh, which is seeking to buy 24 Yak-130 jet trainers with added precision strike and air defense capability, the Russian government recently opened a credit line of $1 billion for weapons purchases. Focus on a single type allows the Asian country to increase the number of aircraft it ordered and facilitate programs for personnel training, infrastructure, spares and weapons stores. Previously, Bangladesh considered a follow-on order for MiG-29 series fighters, but apparently found the lighter and newer Yakovlev better suited to its requirements. However, Bangladesh may place an order to modernize eight previously delivered MiG-29s into more advanced MiG-29SMTs.
Indonesia Building Fleet of Flanker Fighters
This March, Anatoly Isaikin, director general at Rosoboronexport, announced that Indonesia had placed a follow-on order for six more Sukhoi Su-30MK2 twin-seat multi-role fighters. The deal also includes an unspecified number of Saturn AL-31F engines and other equipment needed to keep the growing Indonesian Flanker fleet intact. To facilitate further sales to Jakarta, the Kremlin-controlled VEB Bank provided the Indonesian finance ministry with an export credit facility worth $399.5 million for a seven-year term.
Following the delivery of new aircraft in February, the Indonesian air force’s current Sukhoi fleet comprises 12 aircraft: two Su-27SKs, three Su-27SKMs, two Su-30MKs and five Su-30MK2s. Four more Su-30MK2s are expected by year-end. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, deputy defense minister, was quoted as saying Indonesia plans to have a full squadron of 16 Sukhoi Su-27/30 fighters by the end of this year. Earlier, his colleagues voiced Jakarta’s ultimate intent to form 10 Sukhoi fighter squadrons comprising 180 aircraft within the next 15 to 20 years.
Victor Komardin, Rosoboronexport deputy director general, told the media at LIMA 2013 that Indonesian officials have asked Russia to create a joint center for repair and maintenance of Sukhoi fighters, and Mil Mi-17 and Mi-35 helicopters in Indonesia. He believes the agreement could be signed before the planned rotation of the armed forces chiefs in the second half of the year. After the rotation, Russian salesmen expect resumption of negotiations on follow-on orders for the Su-30MK2, and even more advanced Su-35s, as well as other weapons on the Indonesian wish list.
China Signs for Su-35s
More weapons sales are pending to China. Russian officials confirmed during a briefing at IDEX 2013 in Abu Dhabi that preliminary documents had been signed for the Sukhoi Su-35 multi-role fighter. The new deal for 24 Sukhoi Su-35 single-seat, multi-role fighters would be worth $1.5 billion, with deliveries expected to start in 2015. China and Russia signed the intergovernmental agreement in January, according to Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, deputy director at Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSVTS), following decisions made during Russian defense minister Sergei Choigu’s visit to Beijing in November 2012.
Dzirkaln added that the work on a firm contract is ongoing “in a planned manner” as the sides are “detailing” delivery terms. “There will be direct shipments only, not license production,” he said. China last purchased fighters from Russia in 2004, when it added 24 Su-30MK2s, bringing the grand total of Flanker series aircraft it procured from Russia to 283.
India Is Biggest Importer
India is another enthusiastic buyer of Sukhoi jets. Today, 15 out of 32 Indian air force fighter squadrons operate Su-30MKI multi-role fighters. Alexander Fomin, director at the Federal Service for military-technical cooperation with foreign countries (FSVTS) and the head of Russian official delegation to Aero India 2013, said that Russia continues selling weapons to India on a large scale, despite losing a number of international tenders recently. He added that India’s share of Russia’s military exports is nearly 30 percent, making India the largest importer of Russian weapons.
President Putin, during his visit to New Delhi in December, witnessed the signing of several major arms deals. The largest of those calls for the shipment of 42 additional Su-30MKI kits for subsequent assembly at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL). The value of that deal is estimated at U.S.$3 billion. This recent order supplements earlier signed contracts for a total of 230 such fighters.