Russia hopes to win Indian multirole fighter tender: Top official

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Moscow, Oct 3 (UNI) The president of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) Alexei Fedorov today expressed the hope that Russia would be able to win the lucrative tender for MiG-35 Fulcrum to supply 126 multirole fighters to the Indian Air Force.

''The competition is very tough, but we have several trump cards, including the MiG-35's superb performance characteristics and the fact that Russia and India share a long-standing partnership in strategic and political cooperation,'' Mr Fedorov told RIA Novosti news agency.

Six major aircraft makers - Lockheed and Boeing from the US, Russia's MiG, which is part of the UAC, France's Dassault, Sweden's SAAB and EADS, a consortium of British, German, Spanish and Italian companies - are in the race to win the tender for the estimated 10 billion dollars deal.

Eighteen aircraft are to be delivered in ready-to-fly condition, and 108 are to be assembled in India under licence.

Moscow said if MiG-35 wins the tender, Russia is ready to transfer all key technology to the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and provide assistance for the serial production of the aircraft in the country, the agency reported.

Russia's MiG-35, an export version of the MiG-29M OVT (Fulcrum F) is a highly maneuverable air superiority fighter, which won high acclaim during the Le Bourget air show in France last year.

The fighter is powered by RD-33 OVT thrust vectoring engines. The RD-33 OVT engines provide superior maneuverability and enhance the fighter's performance in close air engagements.

Among the other aircraft put forward in the tender are the French Dassault Rafale, the Swedish Gripen, the Eurofighter Typhoon, and a number of US fighters produced by Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

''So far, none of the participants have met the demands of the tender put forward by the Indian Air Force, Mr Fedorov said.

India desperately needs to upgrade its fighter fleet, which mainly consists of obsolete Russian models, including the MiG-21 Fishbed and MiG-23 Flogger designs.

UNI XC RJ GC1805

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