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Russia supplies MiG-31 to Syria: fake or false start of the contract?

A MiG-31 fighter. Photo: army-news.ru

According to photos distributed in the web, six MiG-31 fighters arrived from Russia at Mezzeh Airbase located in the territory of the international airport of Damascus. The photos available on Warnews.blogspot.com, if they are not a fake, confirm implementation of an agreement dating back to 2007 on delivery of eight MiG-31 fighters to Syria, according to the Russian Centre for Analysis of World Arms Trade.

For the first time, Russia admitted its plans to supply MiG-31 fighters to Syria in 2009. Aleksey Fedorov, the head of the United Aircraft Corporation (at that moment) announced it then.  In May 2009, referring to various sources, Russian mass media reported that the contracts made in 2007 for supply of the MiGs to Syria failed. In an interview published in the Kommersant newspaper on Sept 3 2009, Fedorov said that Russian media were mistaken when saying that the agreements failed, as one of the contracts did not came into effect.  He explained that two contracts were signed simultaneously in 2007: one provided for delivery of MiG-29M fighters to Syria, the other – for delivery of MiG-31E interceptor aircrafts.  The first contract is being implemented now, Fedorov said, while the contract on supply of MiG-31 did not come into effect. The cost of the possible deal for MiG-31 was estimated at $400-$500 million.

Later, in the course of the Euronaval 2010 International Naval Defense and Maritime Show in Le Bourjet, Director General of Rosoboronexport Anatoly Isaykin said Russia did not supply MiG-31 airborne interceptors to Syria calling the reports about it a factoid. “Rosoboronexport has no such contract and holds no such negotiations,” the Russian  Centre for Analysis of World Arms Trade reports Isaykin as saying.

Information on delivery of the Russian airborne interceptors to Russia was leaked from Turkey where local media reported that the aircrafts had landed in Damascus.

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