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Wednesday, 1 November 2000
Page: 21954

Mr Danby asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 17 August 2000:

(1) Is he able to say whether India has acquired Russian SU-27 aircraft; if so, when.

(2) How many aircraft have been purchased by the Indian Government.

(3) Has India announced plans to purchase the Russian built SU 30; if so, how many and when.

(4) What are the merits of these two aircraft vis a vis Australia's F-18s.

(5) Has India announced that it will be purchasing an aircraft carrier in addition to its existing aircraft carrier Viraat.

(6) Has India announced that it will stage naval exercises in the South China Sea in October and November 2000; if so, (a) what ships will be deployed, (b) what is the reason for the exercises and (c) has the Australian government indicated an attitude to these exercises.

(7) Did the Prime Minister raise any of these matters during his recent state visit to India.

Mr Moore (Minister for Defence) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) and (2) India has not purchased the Russian SU-27 aircraft.

(3) India signed a USD1.8 billion contract for 40 Russian-built SU-30 aircraft in 1996, with an option for licensed production of up to 150 aircraft. India ordered a further 10 Russian-built SU-30 aircraft in 1998. Deliveries began in 1997 and India currently operates 16 Russian-built SU-30 aircraft.

(4) (a) See answer to (1) and (2) above.

(b) The SU-30K (the model currently operated by India) has a far greater range capability than the F/A-18 and is more maneouvrable. Some of the weapons fit on the SU-30K are less capable than that of the F/A-18. The current version of the SU-30K cannot support air-to-ground operations.

(5) Yes, India is seeking to purchase the Russian aircraft carrier, ADMIRAL GORSHKOV. In addition, India has announced it intends to construct an aircraft carrier indigenously to an undisclosed foreign design.

(6) (a) (b) and (c) The Indian Government has not released any details of any naval exercises in the South China Sea in October and November 2000.

India will send four ships on a good-will deployment to East Asia in August-October 2000. The ships are a Destroyer, 2 Light Frigates and a Fleet Replenishment Ship. They will visit Singapore and ports in China, South Korea, Japan and Vietnam.

(7) The Prime Minister did not raise any of these matters during his visit to India in July this year.