The Former "Evil Empire" Again A Player On International
After a decade of
neglect following the end of the Cold War, Russian arms-makers and
Western aerospace officials told Newsmax that Russian aerospace is
on an upwards trajectory.
MiG Takes Top Billing
The MiG-29 multi-role fighter was developed to compete with the
F-16 in the air and on export markets. It can be found in service
with 29 air forces around the world, including Syria and Iran.
"We are now exporting new flight simulator and training suites
to all our customers," said Vladimir Barkovskiy, a top official at
Russian Aircraft Company Mikoyan (RAC MiG).
The new training aides are geared to increasing pilot combat
readiness by allowing them to experience extreme air combat
situations and high gravity turns without endangering their
aircraft, he said.
Iran began purchasing the jets from Russia in 1989, then
"inherited" two squadrons of Iraqi MiG-29s when Saddam Hussein flew
them to Iran in 1991 to escape allied bombardments. Syria purchased
its first MiG-29s in 1994.
Russia has been maintaining those aircraft and retrofitting them
with advanced avionics, including new radar developed with Western
assistance once Cold war export controls on the Soviet Union were
removed by the Clinton administration.
"RAC MiG can lease technical teams to its clients to ensure they
meet the combat readiness and operational safety standards they
require," Mikoyan official Vladimir Vypryazhkin said.
Mikoyan is also offering to "trade-in" older versions of the
aircraft for the latest MiG-29 SMT upgrade, which includes an
upgraded ZHUK-ME multi-role radar that can acquire and track up to
ten targets at ranges in excess of 60 miles, and simultaneously
engage four of them.
"We have concluded several new upgrade contracts with customers
in the Middle East recently," Barkovskiy said. "I cannot confirm
that RAC MIG has any activities today in Iran," he added.
New Cold War Mentality?
Western aerospace officials
noted a new aggressiveness among their Russian counterparts at this
year's Paris air show, according to Newsmax.
"Here they are sitting on one third of the world's oil and gas,
with prices at record highs, but they are not reacting as you might
think," one retired U.S. admiral now working for a European defense
contractor said. "We're seeing a return to a Cold War mentality on
the part of the Russians."
This new combativeness was recently displayed by President
Vladimir Putin, who threatened to target new Russian strategic
missiles against Europe if the US deployed a missile defense radar
and ten missile interceptors in Poland and the Czech Republic.
In response to a question about Middle East marketing efforts, a
spokesman for Rosoboronexport, the state arms export monopoly, said
his company had brought "no one who is knowledgeable of the Middle
East" to the air show. This, even though official delegations from
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Syria, and
other countries in the region had come to Paris to shop.
Russia's big rocket makers were overtly present at the air show,
including the companies accused by the US and Israel of having
built Iran's Shahab-3 and Shahab-4 ballistic missile fleet, which
today is targeting Israel and southern Europe.
Dr. Alexander Kirilin, director general of the Samara Space
Center, which makes big booster rockets and sells satellite launch
services, said his company had "no relations with Iran, either
official or officious," despite news reports that Iranians had come
to Samara to acquire technology for their missile programs.
The Samara Space Center has launched Globalstar satellites for
the US, and METOP satellites for Europe, and signed new agreements
at the Paris Air Show to launch additional satellites from the
European Space Agency's launch site in Kourou, French Guyana.
Also in attendance at the show were Kutznetsov, Aviaexport, the
TSAGI Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute, Khrunichev, and NPO
Energomash, all of whom have been cited in Congressional testimony
or in US government statements for their involvement in Iranian
In Moscow on Friday, the chairman of the Russian Joint Chiefs of
Staff, General Yuri Balouyevski, told reporters that the threat
from Iranian ballistic missiles "remains hypothetical for the near
He reiterated Putin's claims that the US had no need to position
missile defense systems in Europe and clarified Putin's offer to
allow the US to build a missile defense radar in Azerbaijan.
The United States could "jointly use" with Russia an existing
Russian radar station in Gabala, Azerbaijan, not build or operate
its own, he said.