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Russia Signs Deal To Buy Israeli Drones

Russia's war with Georgia in August 2008 revealed an aging military
MOSCOW -- Russia has signed a contract to buy airborne drones from Israel, in a move analysts said was aimed at strengthening the armed forces after last year's brief war with Georgia.

"We signed a contract...for the delivery of unmanned flying vehicles," Interfax news agency quoted Russian Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin as saying.

Russian media have reported the deal is worth about $50 million and that Russia will buy the drones from Israel's largest defense firm, state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

IAI officials declined to comment.

Russia's five-day war with neighboring Georgia last August exposed a Soviet-style army with obsolete equipment and a lack of spy drones and high-precision bombs, analysts said.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said that budget cuts this year in the wake of the financial crisis will not affect planned purchases of new weapons for the armed forces.