Which Countries Preferred Russian Arms Compared to US Weapons in 2018?


MOSCOW, Russia – In 2018, Rosoboronexport contracts surpassed $50 billion, and despite Western sanctions, the number of foreign buyers of Russian arms is only growing. A 2018 retrospective on Russia’s major military contracts with other nations has been prepared.

Primary Buyer

India became the main importer of Russian arms in 2018. On October 5, Moscow and New Delhi signed a contract to supply five S-400 Triumph air defense systems equivalent to more than $5.4 billion.

Having been called the largest negotiation in the history of Rosoboronexport, the contract with India provides for payment for anti-aircraft defense systems in rubles, which may be the starting point for transactions in rubles with other countries interested in Russian heavy armaments, signifying a move away from the US Dollar.

The second major contract between Russia and India this year concerns the sale of four Russian frigates from project 11356 in the “two plus two” scheme. Details of the transaction were not disclosed, but the delivery of the first two nearly ready ships is valued at $950 million.

The main armament of these frigates is the famous BrahMos, the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile, capable of reaching targets on the water surface at up to 300 kilometers.

In addition, in mid-May Vertolyoty Rossii (Russian Helicopters) received a request from the Indian Ministry of Defense for the supply of 200 Ka-226T multifunction helicopters and it is possible that the production will be partially joint.

In January, India’s Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman approved a proposal for the purchase of 240 Russian air bombs for some $200 million.

And in early September, New Delhi successfully completed the first successful tests of Russian 125mm Mango tanks. The signing of more important contracts is expected to happen next year.

“This is mainly the supply of 220,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles and 48 Mi-17 helicopters,” said Andrei Frolov, editor-in-chief of the Russian magazine Eksport vooruzheny (Exports of Arms).

According to Frolov, they were unable to comply with a contract this year, but signed a contract to supply a large batch of portable Igla ground-to-air missile launch systems.

The exact price of the contract is unknown, but several experts estimate it to be worth $1.5 billion.

Eastern Front

Technical-military cooperation between Russia and Indonesia has a 60-year history, ie since 1958. To get an idea, only from 1992 did Moscow sell arms, military equipment, airplanes and helicopters to Jakarta in value of more than $2.5 billion.

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In 2018, the parties signed an innovative contract for the supply of 11 of the most modern Su-35 Russian fighters, estimated at $1.1 billion.

But the delivery of these aircraft may be postponed as the US has threatened Indonesia with sanctions. Previously, Jakarta declared a desire to acquire several diesel-electric submarines of the 636 Varshavyanka project. With this contract the situation is also not clear.

It should also be noted that the supply of 500 T-90S tanks and BMP-3 armored vehicles to Iraq begun.

A significant part of the 64 reserved T-90s tanks were shipped to Vietnam, which is actively modernizing its army.

One should not forget Laos, which received this year a few dozen T-72B1. In November, it was revealed that Myanmar had approved a historic contract with Russia to acquire six Su-30SM fighters.

As noted by Deputy Defense Minister of Russia Aleksei Fomin, this agreement is able to open doors to a larger contracts, and the Su-30SM may become the main desire of this Asian country.

Air defense systems

It is worth noting that Russia not only sells military equipment abroad, but also helps partners in the handling of weapons that have already been exported. Thus, by the end of December, Vertolyoty Rossii (Russian Helicopters) plans to open maintenance centers in Brazil and Peru for Mi-17 and Mi-35 Russian helicopters.

Moreover, in April Russia and Greece concluded an agreement to extend the life of weapons systems. These include the maintenance of the S-300PMU-1 air defense systems, the Tor-M1 air defense system and the Osa air defense systems. Currently Greece is the only NATO country armed with Russian anti-aircraft defense systems.

The main intrigue in the military industry of 2019, according to experts, will be the long contract for the sale of the most advanced Russian anti-aircraft defense systems, the S-400, to Turkey, another NATO member. In December 2017, the parties signed a loan agreement for the provision of four systems divisions valued at $2.5 billion.

The US is very worried about this deal and criticized Turkey, threatening not to sell F-35 war planes if the deal with Russia comes to fruition.

And on December 19, the Pentagon reported that a possible deal had been approved to sell Patriot’s anti-aircraft defense systems to Turkey for $3.5 billion. What will be the outcome of all this? It is not yet known.

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