Russia is losing its positions on the Indian arms market. Russia has lost a billion-dollar tender for the delivery of fuel aircraft to this country in spite of the fact that India is one of the key buyers of Russian arms. It was not the first time when Russia failed to sign contracts with India. Experts say that Russia may entirely lose the Indian market if it continues to offer outdated defense technology to one of the most dynamically developing Asian nations.
Russia’s United Aircraft-Building Corporation lost the tender to sell six Il-78 fuel tankers to India. The deal was evaluated at $1 billion. India preferred France’s Airbus A330 MRTT, made by Europe’s EADS.
Foreign experts were certain that Russia would win the tender because of the country’s close ties with India. However, Delhi preferred France.
The Chief of India’s Air Force, Fali Homi, said in an interview with the Hindustan Times that Russia’s offer did not meet India’s requirements. Russia only has to hope that Mr. Homi will retire soon and that his successor will be more Russia-oriented.
Russia has been shipping fuel aircraft to India since 2003. The recent business failure took place because of Russia’s fault only, officials of the Indian Air Force said.
Vladislav Shurygin, a Russian military expert, believes that one should not make a tragedy of the story.
“Of course, Airbus’s fuel tankers have a number of advantages as opposed to Russian-made aircraft. First and foremost, Russia is unable to offer a good technical support package. A lot of things depend on the corruption aspect. India’s decisions depend on its lobbies. To crown it all, India tries to purchase arms from different exporters not to be dependent on arms shipments from one country only,” the expert said.
The fact that India chose Russia’s French competitor is not surprising at all. India does not owe Russian anything. India is a very strong country nowadays, not like it was several decades ago. This country does not have a habit of choosing only Russian weapons. Furthermore, Russia still offers Soviet arms to India and may often disrupt delivery terms.
Airbus A330 MRTT is an up-to-date aircraft, the tests of which began in 2003. Russia’s Il-78 is the product of the 1970s. India’s recent decision is the result of the politics, which the country has been running in its defense industry during the recent 20 years.