Dubai Air Show
Russia Denies Reports of Copter Sales to Gulf States
By WENDELL MINNICK
Rosoboronexport State Corporation denied rumors of a helicopter sale to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. During a press conference Nov. 11, Rosoboronexport officials categorically denied recent media reports that Saudi Arabia had ordered Mi-17 and Mi-35 helicopters for $2.2 billion.
“I don’t know the source of this information, but there has been no official statement on this issue,” said Mikhail Petukhov, a Rosoboronexport official.
Regarding reports of a UAE deal for transport helicopters for the military, he said, “If a contract was signed you would be the first to know. So obviously, no.”
Regarding questions about Rosoboronexport’s strategy to meet India’s 50 percent offset requirements for the replacement of the MiG-21 with the MiG-29, Petukhov said it was not going to be easy to win the competition against the U.S. and European contenders.
“The tender is going to be tough,” he said. “And this tender request is a 50 percent offset program deadline of March 2008. And, of course, we are focusing on how to cater to this 50 percent requirement. And with respect to our chances, it is very hard to tell. But my opinion is, if you are not sure, you are not going to win.”
Petukhov stated total exports for Rosoboronexport exceeded $7 billion in 2007.
“Year to year, Russian exports have been increasing gradually,” he said. Rosoboronexport is “acquiring more and more partners in military-technical cooperation programs. Two years ago, Rosoboronexport had business ties with 60 countries. This year, the figure has grown to 80. The portfolio of orders currently available to Rosoboronexport is enough to load aircraft manufacturers for five to seven years to come,” a Rosoboronexport press release stated.
Future sales of MiG-29s and -35s fighters appear good, said Vladimir Vypryazhkin, a MiG representative.
“The MiG-29 is the prototype of the MiG-35. So the 29 has been a flying test bed for the MiG-35,” he said. “As you probably know, the Middle East region operates a variety of MiG-21, MiG-23, MiG-25 and MiG-29s. So the logical plan is that regional air forces will have to update their air fleets. That is the reason we are displaying our aircraft here.”
A MiG-29M is on static display here in Dubai each afternoon of the air show.