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A Growing Edge In Russian Military Sales Part One

And for all India's growing ties to the United States, Washington has been unable to displace Russia from its dominance of the Indian heavy ground weapons and combat aircraft markets. Russian manufacturers remain confident they will get an enormous order for 300 T-90S main battle tanks -- more than three times the number the Russian army itself is contemplating adding to its arsenal.
by Martin Sieff
Washington (UPI) Dec 14, 2007
Why is Russia doing so well in the global arms sales market when its economic resources are only a fraction of the United States?

Greece has just joined the growing list of longtime American allies that are investing significantly in Russian weapons systems. Greece is going to buy 415 BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles at a cost of $1.8 billion.

In one sense, this may not be surprising: Although Greece is a NATO member, it has relied over the past decade and a half almost exclusively on Russian anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense systems, including, as Russian military analyst Nikita Petrov pointed out in an article for RIA Novosti this week, "the portable Igla missile system, the Osa-AKM, Tor-M1 and Buk-M1-2 short- and medium-range systems, and the S-300PMU-1."

Greece also uses the Russian-made Fagot and Kornet anti-tank guided-missile systems, and what Russia says remains the world's largest military hovercraft, Zubr -- NATO designation Pomornik.

Nevertheless, the Greek plan to buy the tough, durable and reliable BMP-3s is a part of a growing trend we have noted before in these columns: Indonesia has broken with 40 years of reliance on American weapons to buy four Russian Kilo-class submarines and a growing number of Sukhoi fighters.

Malaysia, which used to be a British arms preserve, now relies on Russian Sukhois as its primary interceptor fighters. And for all India's growing ties to the United States, Washington has been unable to displace Russia from its dominance of the Indian heavy ground weapons and combat aircraft markets. Russian manufacturers remain confident they will get an enormous order for 300 T-90S main battle tanks -- more than three times the number the Russian army itself is contemplating adding to its arsenal.

Further, Saudi Arabia, one of the largest, most prosperous and hitherto most secure markets for U.S. weapons systems, is dipping its feet into the Russian arms pool: The Saudis have concluded another billion-dollar arms deal, primarily for helicopters.

How does Russia manage to do so well in the arms industry when its annual gross national product, apart from oil and gas export earnings, is comparable to tiny Denmark's?

The first point is that the Soviet Union was so heavily militarized that despite the miserable state of the Soviet command economy, the arms industry was also a vastly larger proportion of the national economy than it has been in the United States since World War II. Consequently, a far larger proportion of engineering, technical and specialized workers and design talent went into the Soviet military-industry than was ever the case in the United States.

The second point is that just as the Soviet system preserved so many obsolete and moribund old industries, it also preserved experience and excellence in both design and production in the military-industrial sector. And even during the chaos and disruption of the collapse of communism and the inept, corrupt era of President Boris Yeltsin with its catastrophic collapse of living standards, the core military-industrial complexes were preserved.

Consequently, when Russia revived in the 21st century under current President Vladimir Putin, the world's greatest concentration of institutionalized experience in building weapon systems, large and small, from Kalashnikov AK-47 automatic rifles to Sukhoi Su-30s and T-90 main battle tanks was also preserved.

Russia is making the most of reviving and exploiting those advantages today.

(Next: Different weapon design philosophies)

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China Eyes J-10A Sale To Iran
Hong Kong (UPI) Dec 14, 2007
Is China preparing to export its J-10A fighter aircraft to Iran? Most likely, say military observers in Moscow and Tehran. The Russian Kommersant Daily reported that an Iranian aviation company agent had confirmed that China would export to Iran 24 J-10A fighters between 2008 and 2010 at a price of $1 billion.







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