China may once again turn to Russian arms

China may once again turn to purchasing Russian-built weapon systems like it did in the early 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union, according to Ilya Kramnik, a military analyst from the Moscow-based Voice of Russia.

In his Mar. 5 article, Kramnik said that Rosoboronexport — the state intermediary agency for Russia's exports/imports of defense-related and dual use products, technologies and services — had earned US$13.2 billion last year from providing weapon systems to developing nations. By doing this, Russia became the second largest weapon exporter last year, coming behind the United States which made US$23. 6 billion. France came in third, but made only US$6.9 billion.

With permission from Russia, India is currently the only nation in the world to design and produce Russian weapon systems in huge numbers. By early 2013, the Indian Air Force had already received 170 Su-30MKI fighters under a contract signed between the two nations in 2000, Kramnik said. The original contract only allowed India to operate 140 Russian fighters, but the contract was modified twice in 2007 and 2012 to increase the number to 222.

Kramnik said that some of those Su-30MKI were brand new from Russia, while others were manufuctured in India through obtaining a license from Moscow. In addition to providing fighters, Russia is also responsible for training fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force. This contract alone has helped Russia earn between US$12 billion and US$15 billion over the last decade, the analyst said.

Meanwhile, another contract was signed between 2001 and 2007 for India to purchase 2,000 T-90 tanks from Russia. Under the contract worth US$6 billion, some of the T-90 tanks will be constructed in India with the parts provided from Russia. India is capable of producing an annual 140 T-90 tanks, according to Kramnik.

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