Russia will pitch its MiG-35 combat jet for an Indian tender for 126 fighter aircraft, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said yesterday.
"The Russian Federation is going to actively participate in the tender for supply of 126 light fighters," Ivanov told reporters in the southern Indian city of Bangalore.
Ivanov, on a three-day visit to India ahead of a trip by Russian President Vladimir Putin later this week, said Moscow would be sending its cutting-edge MiG-35 fighter to an international air show in Bangalore next month.
Reports said yesterday that Putin will also offer New Delhi nuclear plants and reactors in an aggressive pitch for a slice of India's lucrative nuclear energy market when he visits this week.
India and Russia have close military and diplomatic ties, and Moscow is the biggest supplier of hardware to the Indian military, including combat jets, submarines, transport aircraft and tanks.
The Indian Air Force plans to buy 126 new fighters to upgrade its combat fleet which includes aging Russian MiG-21s and British Jaguars.
This would be one of the biggest orders by any air force for combat jets in recent years.
The MiG-35 has the frame of an earlier Russian fighter, MiG-29, but is more agile and has better avionics as well as an increased flying range.
Sweden and India's new ally, the United States, are also keen to meet the Indian Air Force's demand for new fighters.
The Americans are pushing their F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters built by Boeing Co as well as their F-16s. The Swedes are promoting their JAS-39 Gripen, built by Saab, media reports say.
The French are keen to sell Dassault's Rafale fighter.