A Su-35S fighter.
China may once again turn to purchasing Russian-built weapon systems like it did in the early 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union, according to Ilya Kramnik, a military analyst from the Moscow-based Voice of Russia.
In his Mar. 5 article, Kramnik said that Rosoboronexport — the state intermediary agency for Russia's exports/imports of defense-related and dual use products, technologies and services — had earned US$13.2 billion last year from providing weapon systems to developing nations.
By doing this, Russia became the second largest weapon exporter last year, coming behind the United States which made US$23. 6 billion. France came in third, but made only US$6.9 billion.
With permission from Russia, India is currently the only nation in the world to design and produce Russian weapon systems in huge numbers. By early 2013, the Indian Air Force had already received 170 Su-30MKI fighters under a contract signed between the two nations in 2000, Kramnik said.
The original contract only allowed India to operate 140 Russian fighters, but the contract was modified twice in 2007 and 2012 to increase the number to 222.
Kramnik said that some of those Su-30MKI were brand new from Russia, while others were manufuctured in India through obtaining a license from Moscow. In addition to providing fighters,
Russia is also responsible for training fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force. This contract alone has helped Russia earn between US$12 billion and US$15 billion over the last decade, the analyst said.
Meanwhile, another contract was signed between 2001 and 2007 for India to purchase 2,000 T-90 tanks from Russia. Under the contract worth US$6 billion, some of the T-90 tanks will be constructed in India with the parts provided from Russia. India is capable of producing an annual 140 T-90 tanks, according to Kramnik.
He said that India already has the experience of producing Soviet weapon systems such as the MiG-27 fighter bomber and T-72 main battle tank during the Cold War, adding that Russia remains India's biggest defence exporter today.
China will be another potential market for Rosoboronexport since Russia is making a lot of new weapon systems which are completely different from those Beijing obtained in the 1990s, Kramink said.
Most of the weapons designed by the Chinese, including the J-11 fighter, J-15 carrier-based fighter, Y-20 cargo plane and HQ-9 surface-to-air missile, are actually based on copies of older Russian systems made during the late Cold War-era, the analyst said.
Kramink added that China benefited from the collapse of the Soviet Union when personnel from the Russian and Ukrainian defense industries desperately needed jobs between 1990 and 2000.
China's interest in Russia's more advanced Su-35S fighters is a signal that Beijing is again hoping to acquire and introduce other weapon systems from Moscow to upgrade its arsenal. After purchasing the new weapon systems, China will likely build its own version like it did two decades ago, he said.