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Tuesday, 26 January 2010 09:22

Russia To Sell Its Latest Fighter Plane To Libya

MOSCOW, Jan 2010 (Vedomosti) - Russia may sign contracts to deliver the Su-35 Flanker-C multirole fighter planes and the S-300 PMU-2 air defense missile systems to Libya during a two-day visit by Libyan Defense Minister Abu Bakr Yunis Jaber starting Tuesday.

 

Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, deputy director of Russia's Federal Service of Military Technical Cooperation, told RIA Novosti on Friday during the Bahrain International Air Show that the Libyan minister's visit is a political event that also implies the signing of contracts on the delivery of Russian military equipment to Libya.

 

"A large Libyan delegation will include air defense and air force professionals," Dzirkaln said. "Some documents could be signed."

 

A spokesman for state arms exporter Rosoboronexport refused to comment.

 

In December 2009, the U.K.-based leading open source intelligence provider Jane's reported that Russia could supply 12-15 Su-35 fighter planes and four two-seat Su-30MK2 Flanker multirole fighters to Libya.

 

Two of the newspaper's in Russia's defense sector said the above contract and a contract to supply at least two S-300 Favorit surface-to-air systems had been coordinated for the Libyan defense minister's visit.

 

Konstantin Makiyenko from the Moscow Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST) said the package could be worth $2 billion.

 

In the 1970s and 1980s, Libya was one of the Soviet Union's largest arms partners. However, international sanctions were imposed on it in 1992 at the initiative of the United States and Britain, which blamed Libyan intelligence services of involvement in the explosion of a U.S. Boeing 747 plane over Lockerbie, southern Scotland, in 1988.

 

All the 243 passengers and 16 crewmembers of Pan Am Flight 103 died, and 11 people in Lockerbie were killed as large sections of the plane fell in and around the town.

 

When sanctions were lifted from Libya in 2004, Western leaders, in particular British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, visited Libya and offered Colonel Muammar Gaddafi their latest fighter planes Eurofighter and Rafale, said Mikhail Barabanov, editor-in-chief of Moscow Defense Brief published by CAST.

 

If Russia and Libya sign a contract for the Su-35, the latest Russian fighter of the 4++ generation that is to be supplied to the Russian Air Force only in late 2011, this will mean that Russia has surged ahead of its European rivals, Barabanov said.

 

According to Makiyenko, the potential export contract would also signify the defeat of France's Rafale fighter plane.

 

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