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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Indian Admiral Blasts Arms Deals

Buyers of Russian arms are often offered the same hardware at widely different prices by different Russian companies in a sign that "there is no transparency on the Russian side," a senior Indian commander said.

Moreover, some of the Russian-made arms and parts are of low quality and it is often difficult to find out whether the delivered parts are new, the chief of the Indian navy, Vice Admiral Arun Prakash, said in New Delhi last week.

Prakash said Russian companies are offering identical parts to the navy for $15 to $16,000.

The admiral also said that India has had to negotiate with three middlemen because direct purchases from the arms manufacturers themselves are not allowed, according to Indian press reports.

He did not identify the middlemen or specify which sales he was concerned about.

India intends to ask Russia to help streamline arms trade and clarify the prices of equipment, Prakash said.

India is one of Russia's biggest arms buyers. It ranks only second after China, purchasing $400 million to $600 million worth of equipment a year, according to the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies.

Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov, who oversees the defense industry, told reporters that the Indian military has not lodged a formal complaint on the price or quality of Russian-made arms.

Klebanov also said that there is only one arms middleman authorized to export weapons — the state-run Rosoboronexport.

Rosoboronexport officials declined to comment on the admiral's accusations.

All but six Russian arms makers are required by law to export through Rosoboronexport.

However, some spare parts — especially those that could be installed on both civil and military hardware like helicopters — could be exported by almost any licensed exporter, defense industry insiders said. Thus, identical hardware is available on the market for prices lower than Rosoboronexport's.

Spare parts for an Mi-8 transport helicopter, for example, can be bought from Rosoboronexport, the Aviaexport civil aircraft export company or directly from the Moscow Mil Helicopter Plant, said a former arms export official.

The former exporter, who asked not to be identified, said there are also Russian middlemen with foreign-registered companies that sometimes participate in negotiations between Russian arms makers and the armed forces of countries like those in Central Africa.

However, deals negotiated with the help of such gray negotiators amount for less than 15 percent of all arms exports, the official said.

Gray and black exports account for about 10 percent of arms sold all over the world and Russia, which exported $3.7 billion worth of arms last year, is no exception, according to the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies.

Officials at the center and the former arms exporter said the Indian military would probably not have problems with quality or price fluctuations if it stuck to Rosoboronexport rather than hunt around for better bargains.