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Russian arms export to grow by $800 mln

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State arms exporter Rosoboronexport. A file photo

MOSCOW (BNS): Russian arms exports are expected to increase by $700-$800 mln in 2009 despite the global credit crunch and decreased share of exports to India and China, according to state arms exporter Rosoboronexport.

"Rosoboronexport sells an additional $700-800 million worth of weaponry every year. Despite the crisis, 2009 will be no exception," company official Valery Varlamov said Wenesday.

According to Ria Novosti, Varlamov has confirmed that the Indian and the Chinese share of Russian arms exports decreased to 16-18% in 2008 and could reduce even further. However, Russia is expanding its presence on other markets, including in the Middle East and in Latin America.

"We are increasing our arms exports by penetrating the markets of other countries," he said, adding, in military-technical cooperation with India and China, Russia has shifted focus to joint development of weaponry and defence technologies.

Russia and India through its Joint Venture Company BrahMos Aerospace has developed the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. The two countries have also agreed to jointly develop a medium-haul military transport plane and a fifth-generation fighter jet.

Rosoboronexport sold $6.75 billion worth of arms in 2008, and earlier said its defense order portfolio was worth $27 billion."We could have signed deals worth a total of $50 billion, but we did not do this, and settled for $27 billion. We believe this figure is realistic," Varlamov said.

Combat aircraft have a 50% share in sales of Russian weaponry, followed by air defense systems, military equipment for ground forces, and naval equipment.

"At present, combat aircraft lead the sales of Russian arms with a 50% share of a total. Whoever dominates the skies, wins on the ground," he said.

Russia exports weapons to about 80 countries. The U.S. remains Russia's key competitor in global arms sale.

"The amounts and types of the contracts vary from small arms ammunition to combat aircraft, and we do not shy away from small contracts. We have business ties with about 80 countries," he added.

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