Press Trust of India,

Russia has offered to sell several long-range Tupolev Tu-22M3 bombers to India, Russian Vice Premier and Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said today.

He said the offer was made to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during talks in Moscow yesterday but India has not yet responded.

“We made the offer to the Indian side when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was here. The Indian side has not yet come back to us on the issue, and it would be impossible also to take a decision within 24 hours,” Ivanov was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS news agency. Ivanov said that India had earlier considered leasing the bombers but due to “technical reasons” Moscow is unable to lease the aircrafts.

The leasing of up to three long-range TU-22M3 (Backfire-C) bombers was part of the aircraft carrier 'Admiral Gorshkov' package, which also included leasing two Shchuka-B (Akula class) nuclear submarines currently under construction at Komsomolsk-on-Amur shipyard.

Ivanov underscored that Tu-22M3 is “not a strategic” weapon as it has a range of up to 7,000 kilometres. The bomber capable of carrying 3 Kh-22 cruise missiles is the main bomber of the Russian Air Force and Navy.

Talks for leasing three Tu-22M3 bombers were on since last five years in a package with the acquisition of the Gorshkov aircraft carrier, diplomatic sources said.