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Date: Nov.

20, 2009
Keep An Eye On The Sky – Russia’s Sky

America, once the nation with five major aircraft suppliers, is down to just two, admittedly huge,
companies: Boeing and Northrop Grumman; just like Russia, MiG and Sukhoi. Whereas the US is going
for technology superiority and
very expensive planes, the
Russians are going for
evolution of existing designs
coupled with superb
aeronautical engineering –
always at a bargain price. You
can buy two Russian fighters
for the cost of one US super
plane. Is our one better than
their two? Perhaps, but when
a small country is spending
scarce military funds, two always looks better than one overly complicated whiz-plane. And it is always
worth remembering that 22.5% of all Russian manufacturing is aerospace related, so they need these
sales, badly.

How badly? They just convinced India to buy 50 advanced Sukhoi--30MKI multi-role fighters on top of
the 230 regular Su-30s they already have. These 50 air-superiority fighters (see photo) and supplies are
worth a total of $8.5 billion. Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Marshal P V Naik was reported as saying his
force was even "interested" in acquiring even more Sukhois, which will be "the mainstay of India's
fighter fleet for the foreseeable future, to further enhance its combat potential." This sale of billions
comes on top of about 200 joint projects, including the modernization of the Vikramaditya aircraft
carrier (formerly the Admiral Gorshkov) for the Indian navy, buying and modernizing 3 frigates, the
transfer of technology for the licensed assembly of T-90 tanks in India, the production of BrahMos
missiles and the purchase of Smerch MLRS by India. Oh, and a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman
confirmed they are set to jointly develop helicopters, infantry fighting vehicles and a fifth-generation
fighter (now that’s worrying the US, as this gets into the realm of the F-35 performance). Oh, and all this
is just for 2010-2011.
And then there is the new Su-35, said to be the best fighter jet Russia has ever produced. “We are
ahead of our rivals in all aspects. Our plane has a
wider target range and a longer flight distance and
more powerful weapons. Its cost effectiveness
makes it the best plane in its class,” said Mikhail
Pogosyan, Sukhoi General Director. (see photo
below) The Russian (mouthpiece) paper Pravda is
reporting that a third Indo-Pakistan war may break
out at any moment and that foreign companies are
in the fight for billions in sales; but to whom?
France’s Rafale, Europe’s Eurofighter, Sweden’s Gripen and USA’s F-16 and F-18 are all being pitched to
Pakistan, of course. France, as usual, is pitching to both sides. However, the air forces of more than 30
countries are already equipped with Sukhoi fighters.

But wait, I am not done… there is MiG too. (see photo) In


February this year, MiG first showed off its brand new super-
fighter. Lighter, tougher, faster, cheaper, an air-to-air
dogfighter, the MiG-35 was impressive. Oh, and where was this
show? Moscow? Beijing? Nope, Delhi, India. “Its low price and
technical advantages leave Western rivals behind,” Konstantin
Sivkov of the Academy for Geopolitical Problems. A so-called
academician is solving geo-political problems by selling
weapons. Russian double-speak.

And if America thinks that the Russians are only talking to


India – remember the 30 countries they already arm (not
forgetting China)? Meanwhile, we are making a one-size-fits-all
super fighter the F-35. Is it brilliant? Sure. Is it affordable in
numbers, real quantity? Nope. For that we are still pumping out 1970s technology fighters like the F-16
and the 1980’s F-18. But an F-18 costs twice times as much as a MiG-35 and comes with half the secret
stuff allied countries need to have. Gee, I wonder which one most unaligned countries will buy?