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Syria Buys MiG from Russia With Iranian Financing

Purchase Said To Be "The Start Of A New Era"

In an apparent effort to improve its air combat capabilities, Syria has ordered and will soon take delivery of five Russian MiG-31E fighter-interceptors.

The MiG fighter, considered to be the most advanced of Russia's fighter fleet, will have a configuration similar to one reportedly recently ordered by India, according to United Press International.

"The Syrians will be getting the top line of Russian aircraft through financing by Iran and share some or most of the platforms with the Iranian air force," said a Russian industry source. "This is the start of a new era."

The country intends to replace more of its aging fighter fleet over the coming years, Syrian President Bashar Assad has said.

This is the first combat aircraft purchase Syria has made since buying an Su-24 Fencer in 1988. The contract was reportedly signed earlier this year.

The new MiG is intended to "jump-start" Syria in the air combat arena, according to the Middle East Newsline.

According to Russia's Kommersant, Syria will be receiving planes from the reserve of the Russian Air Force since production of the MiG-31 was halted in 1994.

Vladimir Vypryazhkin, deputy general director of the state MiG Russian Aviation Construction Corp. told Kommersant in June "export orders are starting to come in for the MiG-31"  but declined to say, at the time, who put in the order,

"We are offering the MiG-31E on a trade-in basis for countries that have the MiG-25 interceptor," he said.

Syria has also been buying weapons. Damascus and Moscow came to a contractual agreement  last year for the delivery of 36 Pantsir-S1E artillery missile systems and questions have arisen as to who the intended recipient is.

Last month, the Kommersant quoted Britain's Jane's Defense Weekly as saying at least ten of those Pantsirs would be given to Iran by the end of 2008.



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