Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nicolas Sarkozy eyes defence deals in Dec visit to India

Indian foreign ministry officials said the Nicolas Sarkozy visit will take place tentatively on December 6-7, but the dates are to be confirmed. French daily newspaper La Tribune reported the state visit, initially planned for spring, will take place from December 4-7.Sarkozy to put forth basis for French defence firms tie up to India, which at present prefers weapons from Russian, Israeli and US contractors, the daily said, citing anonymous sources. Media is in the opinion that the French ties with India hit commercial snag over Knity - gritty India felt was a snob after a lightning visit by Sarkozy in 2008, the paper said. While Russian, US and Israeli firms have won contracts topping a billion dollars annually, France had just one major contract in 2005 to supply submarines worth $2.5 billion. The one (contract) that is advanced enough to be signed during the visit is the modernisation of 51 Mirage 2000-H for 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion), the paper said. The contracts to reassure Thales and Dassault Aviation, who are awaiting a decision from Brazil on the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets.Further France is keen to set to decide on an $11-billion deal for 126 fighter jets where Dassault's Rafale is back as a contender after it was out of the race for technical reasons last year. Sarkozy's visit for French firms' share of the country's 10-year $50-billion defence spending may lead to the finalisation of a contract with nuclear group Areva, signed 18 months ago a memorandum of understanding for the construction of two reactors at Jaitapur in the Indian state of Maharashtra.

Russia set to restore radar shield on western borders

Russia will restore the complete radar coverage of its western borders when a new radar facility in the southern town of Armavir becomes fully operational by mid-2010, the Space Forces commander said. The Armavir radar will be the second facility, after the Lekhtusi complex in the Leningrad Region, to close a gap in radar coverage on Russia's western borders after the closure of radar sites in Skrunda (Latvia) in late 1998 and recently in Mukachevo and Sevastopol, in western Ukraine. "The facilities in Armavir and Lekhtusi will ensure the complete radar coverage on the relevant directions that could pose a missile threat," Maj. Gen. Oleg Ostapenko told reporters in Moscow. The general later clarified that the new Voronezh-DM class radars would monitor missile trajectories and probable directions for a missile attack in northwestern and southwestern Russia.

With an effective range of 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) the Voronezh class radar has capabilities similar to its predecessors, the Dnepr and Daryal, which are currently deployed by Russia in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, but uses less energy and is more environmentally friendly.

The Lekhtusi missile early warning radar outside St. Petersburg became operational in December last year, while the Armavir facility is still in the testing phase.

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