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    Russia, India to sign next-generation fighter deal in early 2009

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    Russia and India are due to sign a contract at the beginning of 2009 to jointly develop and produce a fifth-generation jet fighter, the head of the United Aircraft Corporation said on Friday.

    NEW DELHI, December 5 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and India are due to sign a contract at the beginning of 2009 to jointly develop and produce a fifth-generation jet fighter, the head of the United Aircraft Corporation said on Friday.

    "We are planning to conclude the contract at the beginning of next year," Alexei Fedorov said.

    The Russian-Indian advanced multirole fighter is being developed by Sukhoi, which is part of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), along with India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), under a preliminary intergovernmental agreement signed in October 2007.

    Russia and India will simultaneously develop two versions of the combat aircraft - a two-seat version to meet the requirements of India's air superiority policy, and a single-seat version for the Russian Air Force.

    Russia's Sukhoi aircraft maker earlier said it had started to construct a prototype of the fifth-generation fighter, which will feature high maneuverability and stealth to ensure air superiority and precision in destroying ground and sea targets.

    The Russian version will be built at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur aircraft-manufacturing plant in Russia's Far East.

    Flight tests of the fighter are due to begin as early as 2009, and the aircraft may go into production by 2015, Sukhoi said.

    Russia's military cooperation with India goes back nearly half a century, and the Asian country accounts for about 40% of Russian arms exports.

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