MiG Seen Winning Indian Contract

Itar-TassA MiG-29K intended for an Indian aircraft carrier being inspected at an airfield outside Moscow in January.
Russia has won a $1 billion contract from India to upgrade some 70 MiG jet fighters, news agencies reported Tuesday -- a small victory for the country's arms industry, whose reputation has come into question recently.

RIA-Novosti and Interfax, citing an unidentified MiG official, said the five-year contract called for Russia to install new radar systems, weapons control systems and improved engines in MiG-29 fighters, some of which date as far back as the 1980s.

Company officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Russia has aggressively sought to expand its arms sales on the world market.

India has long been a leading customer, but its relationship with Russia soured recently in a dispute over the refurbishment of a Soviet-built aircraft carrier. A Russian shipyard had fallen far behind schedule and demanded a higher price for its work, prompting protests from the Indians.

Russia, meanwhile, wants to secure a multibillion-dollar contract to supply India with 126 new fighter planes -- mostly an advanced version of the MiG-29.

But news reports last month that Algeria has demanded Moscow take back several MiG-29 jets because of quality concerns raised questions about Russia's ability to deliver on major weapons deals.

U.S., French and Swedish companies have also stepped up efforts to sign big arms deals with India, whose economy is booming.