Russian 2010 arms exports top $10 billion

March 2, 2011 at 8:45 AM
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MOSCOW, March 2 (UPI) -- Russia set an arms sales record in 2010, with exports exceeding the $10 billion mark, Russian officials said.

"We are having another record. The planned target was set at $9.5 billion and we went beyond $10 billion," Igor Dmitriyev, head of the Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation, told Russian business daily Kommersant.

The official added that Russia was performing well in the international sales market because of its competitively priced products.

Defensenews.com reports a spokesman for Russian state arms export agency Rosoboronexport confirmed the $10 billion number.

Russia is the world's second-largest exporter of arms behind the United States. Russian-made tanks, helicopters and fighter jets are among the best-sold products -- albeit mainly to developing and emerging countries, which value the Russian price-performance ratio.

Those customers have traditionally included Libya, which won't remain a buyer of Russian weapons for some time since the international community has slapped an arms embargo on Tripoli following violence there.

The recent embargo means that Russia could lose nearly $4 billion in arms export contracts to Libya, Russian news agency Interfax reported. It quoted an unidentified military source as saying that Tripoli had signed contracts for Russian arms worth $2 billion and was in negotiations for contracts worth another $1.8 billion.

For Russia's own armed forces, the Kremlin wants top-notch arms, no matter the price, and that's why Moscow in the past voiced its frustration with the domestic industry.

Arguing that some of the Russian products aren't up to date, the Russian government has urged firms to modernize their product portfolio and internal procedures to become more competitive.

The Kremlin recently detailed plans for a $650 billion arms procurement program aimed at modernizing Russia's armed forces until 2020. Moscow plans to buy 1,000 helicopters, 600 aircraft, 100 ships and eight nuclear-powered submarines over the next decade.

Some of the weapons could be delivered to Russian armed forces as early as this year.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement this week that forces will receive modernized S-300V4, Buk-M2, and Tor-M2 air defense missile systems in 2011, RIA Novosti reports.

Other systems Russia will procure over the coming years include the new S-500 surface-to-air missile defense systems, currently developed by the Moscow defense company Almaz-Antey.

Russia will also purchase four French Mistral helicopter carriers -- two built in France, and two in Russia under license -- to boost its naval capabilities.

The arms spending spree is to help replace Russia's Soviet-era military equipment and cut the number of troops to create a more modern and mobile force.

The costly overhaul of the Russian military comes as forces in Europe face severe budget cuts because of the recession.

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