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Russia to showcase MiG-35 at Aero India

MiG 35. Image from Russian Aircraft Corporation

NEW DELHI (BNS): Russia is striving hard to retain its position as India's biggest defence partner and it plans to make its presence felt in a big way at the Aero India show beginning in Bangalore next week.

The Russian delegation is not the biggest either in size and numbers but it plans to play a prominent role. A large number of Russian aviation companies will put up their stalls to showcase their products.

One of the Russian attractions would be MiG-35 advanced jet fighter which is competing for the Indian combat jet contract. The aircraft was brought during the last air show as well and this time also it would take part in flight demonstrations. The Russian officials claimed that the capabilities of MiG-35 would be on display at the show.

The MiG-35 is competing with Rafale of France, Sweden's Gripen, Eurofighter Typhoon of the European consortium and the American F-16 and F-18 for the contract.

Apart from MiG-35, Typhoon, F-16 and F-18 would also be at display in Bangalore. These aircraft will also take part in flight demonstration in the presence of top air force officials.

But Russia is confident that MiG-35 fits the requirements of Indian Air Force. “The MiG family is well known in India. Our Indian partners have production and maintenance facilities ready to produce part of our aircraft,” Russian news agency Ria Novosti quoted an official as saying.

Several aviation contracts have been finalised between India and Russia in recent years. This includes upgradation of 70 MiG-29 air defence fighters. New Delhi has recently ordered more Mi-17 transport helicopters.

Russia's MiG-35 Fulcrum-F is an export version of the MiG-29 M OVT (Fulcrum F). It is being sold as a highly maneuverable air superiority fighter which has won several hearts during air shows all across the world. It runs on RD-33 OVT thrust vectoring engines.

Even as MiG-35 would be centre of attraction, Russia is also exploring possibilities of expanding defence cooperation. One of the areas is air defence. But a Russian arms trader was quoted by agencies as saying that India is building its own air defence system and might not be interested at the moment in sourcing it from a foreign vendor.

It is believed that the Indian air and missile defence system is in line with the prevalent technology in the world. But at the same time India is buying Russian systems like OSA-AKM, Strela-10, Buk and Tor, Tunguska and hand held Igla missiles for its air defence units.

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