India to Get Long-Delayed Fighter Jets in May

Russia will begin delivery in May of fighter jets to India for a long-delayed aircraft carrier it is refitting for sale to New Delhi, India's navy chief said Friday.

"We are on the threshold of the delivery phase," Admiral Sureesh Mehta said on a visit to Russia, RIA-Novosti reported. "The first MiG-29K will be handed over in May of this year."

Under the $700 million contract, Russia has agreed to supply 16 carrier-based fighters, including four training aircraft, Interfax reported. There is an option in the contract to supply an additional 30 fighters by 2015.

India, one of the biggest buyers of Russian weapons, has been upset by a set of delays to Russia's reconfiguration of the Admiral Gorshkov from a vertical-takeoff platform into a classic aircraft carrier.

Moscow has pushed back the delivery of the carrier from its Arctic port of Severodvinsk to India to 2012 and pushed up the price.

India is emerging as a leading weapons buyer and is planning one of its biggest-ever arms deals, a $10 billion purchase of 126 fighter jets. Russia is taking an active part in that tender.

Russia could share military-aircraft engineering secrets with India in a bid to win that contract, Interfax reported Friday. "If the Indian government decides to buy the MiG-35, we will transfer to India the key technologies used in these aircraft, including fifth-generation technologies," MiG said in a statement, Interfax reported.

Reuters, MT