Russia Details Status of Arms Sales to the Middle East

The Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) released details on Russian arms sales to a number of Middle Eastern countries.

The FSMTC reiterated that Ka-52 and MiG-29M/M2 deliveries to Egypt are ongoing, which were reported earlier in the year. Egypt has purchased dozens of the helicopters and the fighter jets and is currently engaged in negotiations on the Ka-52K, a naval variant. The FSMTC confirmed that negotiations for that helicopter are ongoing at present.

Russia is continuing to market the Su-35 fighter jet to Middle Eastern countries, particularly the United Arab Emirates, according to the FSMTC. The UAE has previously been reported to be interested in ‘dozens’ of Su-35s. The jet made an appearance at the Dubai Air Show, ongoing this week, doing an aerial performance.

In addition, Russia and the UAE are beginning to work on implementing an agreement between the two countries on the development of a fifth-generation light fighter jet, according to the FSMTC. That deal was announced in February 2017. It is unclear what the Emirati role is in the project.

The FSMTC noted that assuming favorable conditions, Russia would like to export the MiG-29 and Yak-130 to Syria, to assist that country in renewing its aerial capabilities. The FSMTC did not make apparent whether such deliveries would be linked to the military and political situation in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad is currently negotiating with opposition factions over a solution to the conflict which began in 2011.

A contract for the delivery of T-90 main battle tanks to Iraq is also underway, according to the FSMTC.

On the subject of the S-400, the FSMTC suggested that deliveries to Turkey could start between 2019 and 2020. The two sides are reported to have inked an agreement on the S-400 though details are still being discussed between the two countries. Furthermore, the FSMTC revealed that an agreement with Saudi Arabia had been reached in May 2017 on the possible Saudi procurement of the S-400.

Last month, Saudi Arabia and Russia announced that a memorandum of understanding had been signed regarding the purchase of the S-400 as well as other military systems like multiple launch rocket systems, small arms, and anti-tank missiles.

Commenting on the possible S-400 sale to Saudi Arabia, Lockheed Martin’s vice president of air and missile defense systems, Timothy Cahill, said that the purchase of both the S-400 as well as Lockheed’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system will be “difficult and will pose a problem,” according to Defense News. Saudi Arabia was approved for the purchase of THAAD last month, one day after the announcement of the memorandum on the S-400.

Rosoboronexport’s chief executive, Alexander Mikheev, also recently discussed Russian arms sales to the Middle East, noting that the order book for Middle Eastern countries currently stands at $8 billion. He said, “We signed a series of contracts. The portfolio of orders with countries of these regions is about $8 bln. It is probably about 20% from the volume of export contracts we have.”

Mikheev noted that Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt are all interested in Russian products.

About Derek Bisaccio

Military markets analyst, covering Eurasia, Middle East, and Africa.

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