Russia has signed a preliminary agreement to sell a dozen Sukhoi fighter jets to Thailand, traditionally a US arms client, in an unprecedented deal worth 500 million dollars, The Moscow Times daily reported Monday.
The report quoted an unnamed senior official with Irkut, the manufacturer of the Sukhoi fighter, as saying that a memorandum of understanding on the purchase was signed during President Vladimir Putin's visit to Malaysia last week to attend an Asian summit.
A spokesman for Irkut contacted by AFP said that Russian and Thai officials discussed Russian military planes in Malaysia last week but declined to comment on the report that a preliminary deal had been reached.
The Moscow Times, an English-language daily aimed primarily at the expatriate community in Moscow, said Thailand had originally agreed to buy the jets last year but the deal was delayed because of the tsunami last December that killed hundreds of thousands of people in the region.
The Irkut official said the deal with Thailand on the jets also included delivery of Russian helicopters to Thailand.
Interfax news agency separately reported that a definitive contract on the sale would be signed toward the middle of next year and that Bangkok would pay part of the bill in kind by delivering various products to Russia for resale on international markets.
Interfax quoted Alexander Klementyev, deputy director of the Sukhoi Aviation firm that is owned by the Irkut group, as saying that Indonesia also planned to buy a dozen Sukhoi planes and their full weapons systems in a deal valued at around 700 million dollars.
A 10 percent-stake in Irkut was bought earlier this month by the European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS) company, which makes the Airbus passenger jet and is the major partner in the Eurofighter consortium.
Source: Agence France-Presse
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