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India, Russia may swap SU-30 fighter jets

By Vinay Shukla in Moscow
June 16, 2006 20:28 IST
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India and Russia are expected to sign a deal on swapping 18 older Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets in service with the Indian Air Force for the latest version of the aircraft.

The deal may be inked during parleys between the two countries to be held in Moscow.

Defence Secretary Shekhar Dutt, who arrived in Moscow on a two-day visit, is likely to review the progress on ongoing long-term military projects, including Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) project for developing indigenous nuclear submarine, during his talks with top Russian defence officials.

Under the initial agreement signed in late 1990s, 18 Su-30 fighters of K and MK series were to be brought to Russia for upgradation to the latest MKI variant with full multi-role capabilities. The Sukhoi SU-30s are produced by Irkut Corporation.

Earlier this month, Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi had visited Irkut Cooperation's Irkutsk aircraft plant in Siberia to inspect 12 Su-30MKI fighters ready for shipment under the estimated $600 million deal.

According to Irkut Corporation President Oleg Demchenko, his company is ready to execute the fighter swap deal with India and is likely to pre-pone the execution of deal for the licensed production of 140 fighters by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited from 2014 to 2012.

Meanwhile, local media reports suggested that India and Russia could be close to inking a Multi-role Transport Aircraft (MTA) deal, which would be financed on parity basis by the two countries for the joint development, production and marketing of the hi-tech military transport aircraft.

Russian government has already included MTA project in its defence programme till 2012.

Lease of two Akula class nuclear submarines and Tupolev 'Backfire' long range bombers, which were part of the Gorshkov aircraft carrier package deal, are likely to be discussed during Dutt's Moscow talks, although Russian diplomats are tight-lipped about it.

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Vinay Shukla in Moscow
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