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Russia plans to diversify arms exports in future - govt. official

MOSCOW, May 9 (RIA Novosti) - Russia, one of the world's leading arms exporters, is planning to expand the variety of weaponry and military equipment sold on global markets, a government official said on Friday.

Russia has almost doubled annual arms exports since 2000 to almost $5 billion last year, becoming the world's second-largest exporter of conventional arms after the United States.

The most popular types of weaponry bought from Russia are Su- and MiG-family fighters, Mi-family helicopters, main battle tanks, armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles.

"Russia has always been known for its famed Su- and MiG family aircraft and various types of naval equipment, including frigates and submarines," Mikhail Petukhov, deputy head of the Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation, said in an interview with the Vesti FM radio station.

However, Russia also intends to gain strong positions on global markets in sales of small arms, anti-tank and air defense missile systems, he said.

Russia's state-run arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, said last year that the country could export weaponry worth about $7.5 billion in 2008.

Russia exports weapons to about 80 countries. Among key buyers of its weaponry are China, India, Algeria, Venezuela, Iran, Malaysia and Serbia.

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