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India clears purchase of Russian combat jets worth $2.4 bln

NEW DELHI — India’s government on Thursday approved the purchase of 33 Russian fighter jets and upgrades to another 59 planes, acting to beef up its air force at a time when the military is locked in a border stand-off with China.

The approval for 21 MiG-29 planes and a dozen Su-30 jets will together cost 181.48 billion rupees ($2.43 billion), the defense ministry said. The purchase, along with the upgrade of 59 other MiG-29s, was an attempt to address the “long felt need of the Air Force to increase its fighter squadrons.”

Tensions between India and China are at their highest in years following a clash last month in a disputed stretch of the border in the western Himalayas in which India lost 20 soldiers.

The two countries, which fought a brief border war in 1962, have since the recent clash moved additional forces and military equipment into key sections of the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control – the ceasefire line separating the two forces.

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