Russia will license-produce the Thales Damocles reconnaissance and target designation pod for its air force strike aircraft, following successful tests of the system with Malaysia's Sukhoi Su-30MKM multirole fighter.
Made late last year, the decision will see Damocles become the first piece of Western equipment approved for integration with Russia's combat aircraft, and the first to be produced locally under an official licence with the system's developer.
Comparative trials involving Damocles and the Ural Optical and Mechanical Plant (UOMZ)-produced Sapsan and Solux targeting pods went in favour of the French design.
UOMZ received production approval from Thales in late 2007 and will now assemble a customised version of the system for the Russian market using locally written software. However, the company will also continue to refine its Sapsan system to pursue future sales to Russia and potential export users.
Moscow has yet to reveal which of its aircraft could be equipped with the Damocles system (white pod pictured below carried by French navy Dassault Rafale), but its Su-27SM2 and Su-34 fighters are considered lead candidates, along with upgraded Su-24M2s and Su-27SMs.
Russia could also be set to produce Sagem Matis thermal imagers for its manned surveillance aircraft and unmanned air vehicles, under a separate joint venture agreement with UOMZ.