Russia and the UAE have concluded an initial agreement to develop a light fighter aircraft based on the MiG-29 jet.
Work could start next year on the project which aims to manufacture in Russia and assemble in the UAE, Sergei Chemezov, the CEO of ROSTEC, the state-owned conglomerate which controls several Russian defence enterprises, told reporters at the IDEX 2017 show in Abu Dhabi.
He did not reveal who the partner would be from the UAE side. The Gulf state has been trying to enter into the defence and aviation manufacturing sector and has several partnerships mainly with Western manufacturers.
Demand for low-priced fighter jets in increasing in the region in the face of increasing asymmetric which do not have sophisticated defensive systems to detect and bring down fighter jets.
The low end of the fighter jet market has been taken by the Chinese-Pakistani JF-17 aircraft which has made sales in Nigeria besides Pakistan and is knocking at the door of several Gulf nations.
A Russian source told defenseworld.net that countries in the Middle East had started to look at Russian weapons and aircraft seriously after its involvement in the Syrian conflict.