Russia’s Rosoboronexport arms agency expects to close 2007 having secured record orders worth a combined $7 billion, says Mikhail Petukhov, deputy director of the federal service of military-technical cooperation, predicting a major increase over last year’s $5.3 billion total.

Speaking at the Dubai air show on 11 November, Rosoboronexport’s special projects director general Mikhail Zavaly declined to confirm widespread reports which claim that Moscow has brokered a major helicopter order with the Saudi armed forces. Referring to claims of a $2.2 billion order for 150 Mil Mi-17 transport and Mi-35 assault helicopters, he said: "so far, there was no official statement on this issue."

However, if confirmed, the decision would come as a major boost to Russia’s arms industry, and represent a blow to Europe’s NH Industries consortium, as Riyadh had also been considering a possible purchase of the EADS-led group’s NH90 transport. Other items on Saudi Arabia’s current shopping list include 72 Eurofighter Typhoon strike aircraft, plus a new fleet of inflight refuelling aircraft. Other unconfirmed reports claim that the Airbus A330-based multi-role tanker transport already selected by Australia, the UK and the United Arab Emirates is also the preferred solution for the latter requirement.

Russia’s RSK MiG design bureau was among the Rosoboronexport-supported companies present in Dubai, with the daily air display including flying appearances by its MiG-29OVT thrust-vectoring demonstrator, which forms the basis of the MiG-35 design on offer to meet the Indian air force’s 126-platform medium multirole combat aircraft requirement.

Rosoboronexport’s deputy general director for sales, marketing and after-sales support Vladimir Vypryazhkin says New Delhi’s 50% offset requirement linked to the deal "is going to be tough for all the competitors". But noting that RSK MiG is confident of winning the competition, he says: "We are focusing our attention on how to cater for the offset requirement."