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This Is Going To Piss Off The Russians
by James Dunnigan
May 18, 2011

India is seeking new sources of spare parts for its vast array of Russian military equipment. Any reputable supplier can bid, as long as they aren't Russian. This new policy is the latest example of the growing rift between the Indian military and their chief supplier of military gear for over half a century. While India has been generally satisfied with the cheap, but rugged and effective Russian weapons, there has been less satisfaction with the quality and timely delivery of spare parts. India also accuses Russia of jacking up prices after deals had been made. Decades of complaints from India have not changed the situation much.

India has tried manufacturing its own spare parts, but that has not worked out well, despite the fact that India manufactures many Russian systems under license. But some types of parts require manufacturing skills that India has not achieved yet. This became public eight years ago when India sought reasons why so many of their Russian warplanes were crashing. India lost 250 MiG-21s to accidents between 1991 and 2003. When consulted, Russia pointed out that India had insisted on manufacturing many of the spare parts needed to keep MiG-21s operational, and many of these parts were not manufactured to Russian specifications. While Russia does not have a reputation for making the highest quality equipment, their standards are often higher than India's. It's no secret that much of the military equipment made in India is pretty shabby by world standards.

But India has cash, and has no qualms about getting quality spares from any source that can deliver them. There are, in fact, firms in many nations (Israel, China, several in Eastern Europe) that produce, or can produce, these spare parts. India is seeking such suppliers, and will probably get all the quality, affordable, spares it needs. As a bonus, the Russians will be highly pissed off.

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