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Russia offers to sell MiG-21 spare parts factory to India: Report

T V Parasuram in Washington

Russia has offered to sell India an entire factory and all the machinery to make spare parts for MiG-21 fighter aircraft, the Defense News reported.

Officials of the Indian defence ministry and the Russian arms export agency are discussing the offer, which comes on the heels of a March 22 Indian parliamentary report asking the air force to phase out the MiG-21s.

"We are greatly relieved by the Russian offer, for India has to depend on parts for MiG aircraft from CIS [former Soviet] countries, which are of inferior quality," a senior defence ministry official said.

India spends $200 million on spare parts for the MiG series annually, the weekly said.

A diplomat at the Russian embassy in New Delhi said that the plant under discussion is based in Nizhny Novgorod. It helped upgrade some of India's MiG-21s.

The plant would help Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, which is slated to upgrade 123 MiGs by 2004, the report added.

Defence analyst Bhim Singh said that if India could get the spares and components from Russia, there would be no need to phase out the MiG-21s, and the country would be saved from spending billions of dollars in off-the-shelf purchases of combat aircraft.

PTI

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