India jets order boosts ailing Russian defence industry

MOSCOW, October 9, 2010 (AFP) – Russia’s ailing defence industry has received one of its biggest boosts in years with a huge fighter jet deal with India, but much of the sector remains stuck in a Soviet-era time warp, analysts said.

Moscow is in the race for a contract to supply New Delhi with 126 fighter jets and hundreds of combat helicopters — one of the world’s biggest defence deals in a decade.

India announced Wednesday it planned to buy up to 300 fifth-generation stealth fighters that would be jointly developed with Russia in a deal that may be worth up to 30 billion dollars (22 billion euros.

Last year’s record arms sales helped mask systemic troubles in Russia’s defence industry that have pushed even the Russian military to seek hardware abroad in its drive to overhaul outdated weaponry.

“Russia needs the Indian money like it needs air to accelerate the production of fighter jets for its own military,” said Ruslan Pukhov, head of Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST).

“It’s not only good but revolutionary news.”

The deal is the biggest ever for India — one of Russia’s top three arms buyers — and crowned two years of growing defence bookings for Russia t