Doubts over MiG-31 Syrian purchase

Posted on by on March 18th, 2014 | Comments Off

Recent reports regarding the planned purchase of MiG-31 Foxhound aircraft by the Syrian Air Force have considerably muddied the waters and it is now unclear whether or not the deal is going ahead. Eight aircraft are reported to be on order, which are surplus Russian Air Force airframes that are being upgraded by the OAO Nizhny Novgorod Aircraft Plant Sokol. However, Russian business daily Kommersant reported on May 20 that work on the aircraft at Nizhny Novgorod had been suspended due to the lack of a formal contract. The newspaper stated that the company’s annual report for 2012, submitted to shareholders on May 29, confirmed that preparatory work on the MiG-31Ehs had stopped. lt is reported that Syria’s severe financial problems are the primary reason for the abandonment of the deal, although there were also suggestions that pressure from Israel may have been an influence as well. Contradicting these reports, a Syrian statement on May 24 denied that Russia was no longer intending to sell it the eight MiG-31Ehs. The statement said that “This is part of attempts to undermine the friendly relations and co-operation between Syria and Russia.” It also went on to dismiss the suggestions that there had been pressure from Israel to cancel the deal. The statement was issued during a visit to Damascus by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. As Russian officials and arms export agency Rosoboronexport decline to comment on the deal, it is difficult to determine the true
situation.

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