Friday, December 31, 2010

Russia's arms exports at record high

Russia's state arms exporting agency, Rosoboronexport, 2010 is ending on a high note.
In the wake of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's three-day state visit to India, the two countries have agreed to a $295 million joint development of a fifth-generation multirole fighter. In all, 30 bilateral documents were signed during Medvedev's visit.

The agreement for the aircraft's development was signed between Rosoboronexport General Director Anatoly Isaikin and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. Chairman Ashok Nayak. Isaikin said he is upbeat about his firm's future, telling journalists last month, "Rosoboronexport currently exports several thousand military products, expanding arms sales by $500 million-$600 million each year."

The contract formalizes an earlier 2010 arrangement between Russia's Sukhoi aeronautics company and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited to develop in tandem a fifth-generation fighter jet based on the Sukhoi's T-50 fifth-generation fighter jet (also known as PAK FA) design. That model draws on Sukhoi efforts to develop a fifth-generation fighter since the 1990s capable of competing with the West's most advanced aircraft, including the American F-22 Raptor.

Russia's Amalgamated Aircraft Manufacturing Corp. Senior Vice President Mikhail Pogosyan said the joint program promoted the strengthening of both India's and Russia's defensive capabilities and that it will "provide the market with a competitive product that will meet tomorrow's requirements," with the prototype expected undergo testing by 2015.

Russia's fifth-generation fighter Sukhoi T-50 is currently undergoing tests, the prototype having been built at a plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur in Russia's Far East. Russia intends to use the jointly developed fifth-generation fighter as an export version of T-50, while India is expecting the new fighter aircraft to enter service with its air force by 2020.

Rosoboronexport oversees the production of Russian Defense Industrial Complex, consisting of more than 1,500 research institutes, design bureaus and manufacturing plants and accounts for more than 90 percent of Russia's annual arms sales.

According to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, Rosoboronexport's exports in 2010 will exceed $10 billion, second only to U.S. arms exports. Rosoboronexport exports its products to 60 countries mainly in Southeast Asia, the Far East, and the Middle East, raising concerns in both the United States and Israel, as some of the weaponry goes to countries such as Syria and Venezuela.

Earlier this month, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez announced that Russia had agreed to lend his country $4 billion so that he could spend it on Russian-made weapons.

Rosoboronexport's future for 2011 looks good, as the company has $40 billion in confirmed orders on its ledgers. As for competing with the U.S. military-industrial complex, the world's largest arms exporters, Moscow's Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Deputy Director Konstantin Makienko observed simply, "It is pointless to compare any country with the U.S. when it comes to selling arms."

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