India agreed Monday of last week to buy $2.9 billion worth of Russian military equipment, as Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a visit to the longtime Kremlin ally. The quantities at play here mean these transactions are, literally, a big deal—It’s the equivalent of one fifth of Russia’s total defense sales in 2011.
The agreement says India will buy kits to assemble 42 Sukhoi-30 fighter jets for $1.6 billion, and 71 Mi-17 military helicopters for $1.3 billion. Russia has custom designed the jets specifically for India, and they are engineered to become the very backbone of the nation’s air force. Russia and India have also recently collaborated on a supersonic missile for the Sukhoi-30s, and India is rumored to be equipping this jet to deliver its nuclear weapons.