Ukraine is close to signing one of its biggest ever defense deals for air-to-air missiles with India, according to Russian media reports.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta says the deal for R-27 missiles, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, is in the final stages and is waiting for approval from the Ukrainian leadership.
The Vympel R-27 (AA-10 Alamo) missile is a medium-to-long-range air-to-air missile developed by the Soviet Union. It is similar to U.S. AIM-7 Sparrow.
The missile comes in infrared-homing (R-27T), semi-active-radar-homing (R-27R), and active-radar-homing (R-27AE) versions. It would be fitted to India’s MiG-29 and Su-30 fighter jets.
While the deal has not been confirmed officially, the paper quotes a source close to Ukraine’s national security and defense council, saying both nations are sensitive to Russian concerns over the deal and want to make sure that it would not irritate Moscow.
Tensions between Kiev and Moscow could arise later because if the deal is successful, India may want to buy other weaponry from Ukraine, entering a market dominated by Russia, defense analysts quoted by the paper said.
Some industry experts believe Moscow would not oppose the deal as the Ukrainian company is the only manufacturer of these missiles, although Russian firms supply some components for R-27.
The R-27 was originally designed by Vympel, a Russian missile design bureau, in the 1980s. Vympel is now part of Russia's Tactical Missiles Corporation, which now produces successor weapons to R-27.
Artem, a Ukrainian arms firm involved in R-27 production in Ukraine, could not be reached for comment.
Ukrainian R-27s displayed by the Artem and Arsenal companies at the Moscow air show in 2011 featured what the makers claimed were upgraded seekers. Arsenal said it had developed a new infra-red seeker for the R-27 extending its detection range from 18 km to 30 km.
New Delhi showed interest at the recent DEFEXPO-2012 arms show in Ukrainian anti-tank missiles and new engines for Mi-family helicopters produced by the Ukrainian Motor Sich company, according to Ukrainian officials.