The Russian aircraft-building corporation MiG begins work on a program of flight tests of MiG-29K/MiG29KUB shipborne fighters© RIA Novosti. Sergey Pyatakov
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MOSCOW, October 9 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Navy will buy at least 24 MiG-29K (Fulcrum-D) fighters to be deployed on the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, an unnamed Defense Ministry official said on Friday.
He added that deliveries of the carrier-based multirole fighters would start in 2010.
The MiGs will subsequently replace the Su-33 (Flanker-D) carrier-based fighters, even though their service life does not expire until 2025.
Military analyst Konstantin Makiyenko suggested that production of new Su-33 aircraft was possible but not cost-effective, given the small production volumes, whereas considering that India has already contracted 16 MiG-29K's and could place an order for another 28, the latter option is more financially viable.
The 24 aircraft will cost an estimated $1 billion.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.