Putin said to seal $7 billion Russian arms deal in India

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Russian President Vladimir Putin may announce about $7 billion of weapons contracts, including for Sukhoi fighter jets, when he visits India next week, according to three people in the defense industry.

During Putin's visit on Dec. 24, the two countries will announce contracts for 42 Sukhoi Su-30MKI jets, made by United Aircraft's Irkut Corp., and almost 1,000 AL-31 warplane engines to be delivered through 2030, according to the three people who asked not to be identified because the information isn't public. Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, declined to comment.

India, Russia's top arms customer, has at least doubled its defense budget over the last decade as it looks beyond a traditional rivalry with Pakistan to counter China's rising power. Putin, who returned to the presidency this year, has spearheaded Russia's efforts to fend off competition for the contracts from the US and Europe.

"These will be truly historical deals if signed," Konstantin Makiyenko, the deputy head of the Moscow-based Center for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said by phone yesterday. "I don't remember a contract for 1,000 engines at all and deals for over 40 planes happen twice in a decade."

Syed Akbaruddin, a spokesman at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, wasn't available to comment. Vyacheslav Davidenko, a spokesman for Russia's state-owned weapons exporter Rosoboronexport, declined to comment.

Russia's arms trade with India "will develop more actively" after the visit, Yuri Ushakov, Putin's foreign-policy aide, said today in an interview. He declined to comment on specific deals.

Russian defense-industry exports have exceeded $14 billion billion this year, higher than the government's target, Putin said yesterday. The country has signed new contracts worth $15 billion in 2012, he added.

Then-Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said Oct. 10 that Russia expected to sign a deal to ship 42 Sukhoi jets to India by the end of the year, RIA Novosti news service reported.

India has already received about 150 Russian jets, according to CAST estimates.


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