Russian SU-27 and MIG-29 jets perform maneuvers Sunday over Zhukovsky airfield outside Moscow. - AP

Russia air show sales hit $3 billion

MOSCOW — The Moscow international air show closed Sunday with manufacturers claiming some $3 billion in contracts, triple the amount from the last show, but far less than Western shows that Russia wants to emulate.

The air show was held amid calls by President Vladimir Putin and other officials for reviving Russia's commercial airliner business, which has suffered severe money problems since the Soviet Union's disintegration.

The United Aircraft Corp., an umbrella for Russia's plane makers, signed some $1.5 billion in contracts, said Boris Alyoshin, the head of the Federal Agency on Industry, in comments televised on the Vesti-24 television.

Organizers said other contracts would boost the total to around $3 billion, according to Russian news agencies.

The 2005 edition of the biennial show brought about $1 billion in contracts.

One of the larger deals of this year's air show was the purchase of four Boeing 737s by Atlant-Soyuz, an airline controlled by the Moscow city government.

State arms trader Rosoboronexport said nearly 800 companies from about 100 countries participated in the biannual show, up from 70 two years ago. The largest foreign delegations were from China, Latin America and Arab countries.

However, the reputation of Russia's military planes was shadowed by the announcement that the military had grounded all its Su-24 bombers after a crash last week in the Far East that was believed to have been caused by technical problems.

Russian officials said recently they planned to spend about $250 billion to build about 4,500 civilian aircraft by 2025 as part of a program.

This year's event, which was extensively covered by Russian media, has also been dogged by reports of poor organization, leading to frustrations such as inadequate toilet facilities and long traffic jams.

Other deals announced during the show included an agreement signed by Boeing and Russia's OAO VSMPO-Avisma to create a joint venture to make titanium forgings for use in production of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.


Associated Press Writer Mike Eckel contributed to this report.

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