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Thursday, 28 December, 2000, 14:46 GMT
India to build Russian fighters
Sukhoi-30
The Sukhoi-30 is a long range multi-role combat aircraft
By Jill McGivering in Delhi

Indian and Russian officials have finalised a deal for India to manufacture under licence Sukhoi-30 combat jets.

The deal is though to be worth more than $3bn and the biggest single arms contract between the two countries.

It was signed at the final stage of a contract which has been negotiated by the two governments for some months.

Under the terms of the contract the Indian company, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, will manufacture about 140 of these modern Russian combat jets over the next 17 years.

Vladimir Putin
Deals signed during President Putin's recent visit
This was one of a series of multi-million dollar arms deals endorsed by political leaders last October when the Russian President made a short state visit to Delhi.

Progress was also made on deals for the licence production of Russian T-90 tanks and the supply to India of an aircraft carrier.

Banking on Moscow

The sale of such military hardware has been a key feature of the relationship between the two countries since the end of the Cold War.

Russian equipment is now central to Indian defence systems, although politicians in Delhi are increasingly starting to look further afield for suppliers, including to such countries as South Africa and Israel.

Some analysts also hail the October visit as a turning point in relations between the two, signalling a new strategic closeness after a slightly turbulent decade.

In October Russia and India signed accords on closer defence co-operation, a joint approach in combating international terrorism was a strongly recurrent theme.

Now the completion of this high profile and highly lucrative contract is further practical evidence that the relationship does seem to be getting back onto a firmer footing.

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See also:

06 Oct 00 | South Asia
India reworks Russian ties
11 Dec 00 | South Asia
UK moves to close India jet deal
03 Oct 00 | South Asia
India and Russia boost ties
29 Feb 00 | South Asia
India's growing defence costs
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