Last year Russia sold a record $15.16 billion worth of arms to a growing number of customers around the word, according to the Federal Military-Technical Cooperation Service.
“The volume of arms exports has reached $15.16 billion, according to preliminary calculations [for 2012]…which means that our plans have been fulfilled by 111.8%,” FSMTC chief Alexander Fomin told a government meeting on state defence contracts on Monday.
“In the past ten years, we have seen a general increase in exports, which have tripled since 2003. The portfolio of orders for defence-related products has also tripled. Its current value exceeds $46 billion,” he said.
RIA Novosti reports that Russia’s arms sales in 2011 amounted to $13.2 billion. The country is the world’s second largest arms exporter after the United States, which sold $66 billion worth of weapons in 2011.
Russia supplies weaponry to 55 countries, with its main customers being India, Algeria, China, Venezuela, Malaysia and Syria. Vietnam also emerged as an important customer after signing a deal to buy submarines, aircraft and other equipment from Russia in 2010. Fomin said some new arms clients last year included Afghanistan, Ghana, Oman, and Tanzania.
“We have been issuing fewer licenses to replace or repair exported products, which is an encouraging trend,” Fomin said, referring to the apparent improvement in quality of Russian military products. Russia has a bad reputation for poor after-sales support of its military hardware.
Fomin said his service was drafting new legislation that would allow Russian arms manufacturers to open their own service centres abroad and to import defence-related products to satisfy their own needs, RIA Novosti reports.
In December Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia had signed over $15 billion in new export contracts for 2012 but did not elaborate on the delivery schedules for those deals.
Putin said a major part of Russia’s weapons business includes upgrades and refurbishment of Soviet-era technology and hardware. “We understand that competition in this sector of the international economy is very high and very serious,” he said.
Last year Russian think tank Centre for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST) predicted Russian arms exports to surpass $14 billion in 2012. According to the CAST report, Russia was expected to deliver about 50 Su-family fighters to India, Vietnam, Algeria, Indonesia and Uganda in 2012.
In addition, Russia was set to supply India with ten MiG-29K naval fighters and modernize ten MiG-29s in service with the Indian Air Force to MiG-29UPG level. Myanmar was set to receive 14 MiG-29s.
Russia was also to deliver Pantsir-S1E air defence systems to Algeria and the United Arab Emirates, Buk-M2E air defence systems to Syria, and Tor-M2E systems to Belarus.
Venezuela was set to receive Russian T-72 tanks, BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles and BTR-80A armoured personnel carriers.
With regard to naval deliveries for 2012, CAST noted that 2012 deliveries to India were scheduled to include two Talwar class frigates and a modernized Kilo class diesel electric submarine to the Indian Navy. However, the delivery of the refurbished aircraft carrier Vikramaditya to the Indian Navy has been repeatedly delayed.
Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport makes up around 80% of all arms exports in a given year, while nearly 20 independent firms make up the difference with sales of spare parts and upgrades.