MOSCOW, Oct 13, 2006 (AFP) - Russia is to supply China with
eight hi-tech anti-aircraft systems under a recently concluded deal,
but Chinese interest in Russian defence equipment could be tailing
off, a leading business newspaper here said Friday.
China's latest purchase is eight S-300 PMU-2 Favorit air defence
systems, the Vedomosti business daily quoted a spokesman for
manufacturer Almaz-Antei, Yury Baikov, as saying.
The systems are a new export model with a range of up to 200
kilometres (125 miles) and the capability of intercepting ballistic
missiles, the newspaper said.
The value of the deal was estimated at one billion dollars by
military analyst Konstantin Makiyenko.
China has been a major client for Russian weaponry, accounting
for 60 percent of Russian arms exports last year, which in total
were worth 6.12 billion dollars, the paper said, citing state
Deliveries last year included five hi-tech submarines and a
naval destroyer, while China agreed to buy 38 transport and
refuelling planes, as well as a series of jet engines.
But China may soon be fully stocked with Russian defence
equipment and the only way to sell more would be through joint
development of new technology, the paper said.
"Experts warn that the purchase of a huge new batches of arms
from Russian producers by the Chinese is becoming less and less
likely. Keeping China as a major partner of Russia in the military
technical cooperation can only be done with joint work on new kinds
of weapons," the paper said.
With the latest contract, China will have bought 28 of the
Russian anti-aircraft systems, almost enough to cover all its major
industrial centres, the paper said.
In the naval sphere, Russia is about to transfer to China a
fourth Project 956 destroyer, meaning that China's navy will have
more destroyers than Russia's, which has three, the paper said,
quoting military analyst Mikhail Barabanov.
China's airforce is similarly fully stocked with Russian fighter
jets, the paper said.
"Militarily China is progressing at a fast pace and soon will
clearly only be interested in new types of weapons.
"In this situation Russia needs to activate joint work with
China on such new systems as a fifth generation fighter jet.... But
to jointly create new systems of weapons with a country that is not
a military ally is not simple," the paper concluded.