Russia ready to sell MiG-35 to India

Tuesday, 23 January 2007, 06:00 Hrs
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Bangalore: Russia made a pitch for selling the cutting-edge MiG-35 fighter jet to the Indian Air Force and said it will ink an agreement on jointly producing a mid-size transport aircraft during President Vladimir Putin's visit to India beginning Thursday.

"We are ready to participate in the tender and win it," Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov, who is also deputy prime minister, told a press conference here while referring to an Indian tender for the acquisition of 126 jet aircraft for its air force.

MiG-35 combat jet will be displayed at the Aero India-2007 air show in Bangalore, scheduled for Feb 7-11.

Russia is the largest supplier of military hardware to India, accounting for nearly 70 percent of Indian military hardware imports.

The two countries will also sign a contract to jointly develop and produce a multi-purpose medium-haul transport aircraft this week. "I hope we will sign a corresponding document within two days," said Ivanov.

In one of the biggest orders by any air force, the IAF plans to upgrade its combat fleet of jet fighters that include ageing Russian MiG-21s and British Jaguars and came out with a tender sometime back for buying 126 jet aircraft.

Russia's MiG-35 will have to compete with F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters and F-16s of the US and Swedish JAS-39 Gripen to win this lucrative contract.

Equipped with superb engines and advanced avionics, the MiG-35 jet, a developed version of MiG-29M OVT (Fulcrum F), is more agile and has better flying range. It was displayed for the first time in August 2005 during the MAKS Air Show outside Moscow.

The engines are easy to maintain and could even be manufactured at Indian enterprises, said Ivanov, adding that Russia and India were close to signing the relevant licensing agreement for this.

Ivanov, who arrived here Monday, will travel to New Delhi and join the delegation of Putin, the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations Jan 26.

Ivanov will meet Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony in New Delhi Wednesday for talks on expanding defence ties, that would also include a discussion on developing a fifth generation aircraft.
Source: IANS
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