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Russia to offer loans, debt write-offs to boost arms exports

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Russia is planning to offer foreign customers loans and debt write-offs to encourage the purchase of its weaponry amid the global economic crisis, the head of a state-controlled arms exporter has said.
MOSCOW, April 10 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is planning to offer foreign customers loans and debt write-offs to encourage the purchase of its weaponry amid the global economic crisis, the head of a state-controlled arms exporter has said.

"We are offering flexible prices and different forms of financing...including debt write-offs and loans," Rosoboronexport's general director Anatoly Isaikin said in an interview published on Friday with the Rossiiskaya Gazeta government daily.

Russia exports weapons to about 80 countries. Although China and India remain key buyers of Russian-made weaponry, Moscow has been actively expanding its presence on arms markets in Latin America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Rosoboronexport sold about $8 billion worth of weaponry in 2008 and has a current portfolio of orders worth a total of $27 billion.

The most popular types of weaponry bought from Russia are Sukhoi and MiG fighters, helicopters, battle tanks, armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles.

Russia also maintains traditionally strong positions in sales of small arms, and anti-tank and air-defense missile systems.

"Exports of military aircraft occupy first place with a 56% share [of sales]. They are followed by air defense systems with 17%, weaponry for Ground Forces - 15%, and naval equipment - 9%," Isaikin said.

Due to fierce competition on global markets, Russia is also shifting focus in its arms deals to post-sales servicing, modernization, repairs and even decommissioning of military equipment, the official said.

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