Russia to sell Iran 50 MiG-29 engines - paper

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MOSCOW, Oct 16 (Reuters) Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to sign a deal to sell 50 new jet engines to Iran for the Islamic Republic's air force during his visit to Tehran, a Russian newspaper today said.

Russian business daily Kommersant, citing unnamed sources, said an initial 150 million dollar deal for 50 RD-33 turbo-thrust engines for Iran's Azarakhsh fighters could be signed while Putin attends a Caspian regional summit in the Iranian capital.

The Chernyshev Machine Building Plant in Moscow will provide the engines from its MiG-29 fighter jet production line, Kommersant said. The factory could not be reached for comment.

Russia, a G8 member nation and permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, expects to earn a record 7.5 billion dollar in weapons' sales this year, up from 6.4 billion dollar in 2006, according to government estimates.

The Azarakhsh is a reverse-engineered Iranian version of the US 1970s-era F-5E jet fighter, a plane once freely sold to Iran before the 1979 Islamic Revolution severed all ties with Washington, halting arms sales by American firms.

Iran said in August its newest generation Saegheh (Thunderbolt) fighter, a variation of the Azarakhsh (Lightning), was being built on an industrial scale, and was similar to, but more powerful than, the US F/A-18 Hornet.

REUTERS SS SSC1405

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