Interview of FSMTC of Russia Deputy Director V.K.Dzirkaln to Interfax-AVN Agency
4 March 2011
FSMTC of Russia Deputy Director Vyacheslav Dzirkaln: "Unified approaches to common threats drive dialogue between Russia and the NATO"
Recently, relations between Russia and the NATO have changed dramatically. We have shifted from adversarial opponents to collaborative partners. Cooperation is developing multi-directionally, including in MTC. Deputy Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation Vyacheslav Dzirkaln told Interfax-AVN about principles driving development and potential of military-technical cooperation between Russia and the North Atlantic Alliance.
- Our bilateral cooperation with the NATO countries is maintained through intergovernmental commissions set up with such countries as Italy, France, and Germany. Such cooperation with "younger" Alliance members, our former allies under the Warsaw Treaty - Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland- is maintained through working groups at the intergovernmental economic and trade commissions.
Anyhow, but an MTC-based dialogue has already started. And this dialogue is driven by unified approaches to combating international terrorism, drug trafficking, other threats, and challenges.
As is known, Russia does not participate in operations of NATO coalition forces, in particular, in Afghanistan, and Iraq. NATO members approached us because Russian arms, and, first of all, of course, helicopters are largely used in these countries. Besides, armed forces of Afghanistan, and Iraq are heavily equipped with Russian (Soviet) arms, they have certain experience in operating these arms and vehicles, and training of experts.
Operations in Afghanistan carried out by coalition forces have shown the necessity for a wide use of Russian Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters. The NATO has become aware of this. Moreover, Coalition member countries such as Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland, our former allies under the Warsaw Treaty, provide their peacemakers using, inter alia, Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters.
- At what stage are negotiations on supply of helicopters to Afghanistan? Sources say about 21 vehicles, and a special trust fund, including Russia, will be set up under this project.
- A trust fund is initiated by the NATO. They proposed to set up a trust fund into which each potential member country should make a certain contribution. Now, in Brussels, there are consultations about a fund’s format, and a contribution to be made by each of the parties. Russia plans to join this fund. We have not yet determined a format, and, today, we discuss the amount of the Russian contribution to this trust fund.
- Will it be a monetary contribution or supplies of helicopters?
- Options vary. New supplies of helicopters are not being discussed. Our contribution may be in the form of supplies of spare parts and units, assistance in repairs and upgrading of those Russian helicopters that are in the service of the Coalition member countries, as well as training of technical support staff. Author's supervision of helicopters by Mil’s Design Bureau as their developer and the manufacturer is a most likely option.
Today, many Russian helicopters are in use in Afghanistan. To streamline their use, we have established contacts with NAMSA officials, a NATO structure in charge for condition, in particular, of helicopters. We have delivered a message to our counterparties that Russia strongly objects to the use of the Mil brand in an appropriate manner.
After all, what is an issue? Besides helicopters owned by Afghans, there are many helicopters of an unknown origin. At present, neither control over operations nor maintenance of those vehicles is in place. If something is wrong with a helicopter, they say it is a Mil helicopter, even if the helicopter has not been operated for a long time in Russia, its economic life has expired, and it is equipped with counterfeit units, components, and so on. Naturally, this is not the case to contribute to our image.
We said to our NATO partners that we are ready to certify the helicopter fleet offered for operations as we have records of helicopters that have been produced nowhere, but in Russia and the Soviet Union. And if we have no objections to their origin, and legitimacy of their use, certainly, we will assist in their legalization.
- What actions have been already taken to streamline the process?
- We have drawn attention of counterparties that, despite operations of many Russian military and transport helicopters in Europe, any enterprise in NATO member countries has no license of the developer to carry out repair and upgrading of these vehicles.
This message has been accepted by the NATO. The theme is especially relevant because a tender for repairs of 36 Mi-family helicopters in service of the Alliance member countries is forthcoming. We have been heard as importance to address such issue is recognized, and the use of these helicopters is expected to serve interests of the international forces pursuing the goal to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan.
Since a tender involves a number of countries, in particular, Poland, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, and Slovakia, we carry out work to certify their core enterprises. We also take joint actions with Hungary where a similar factory does not exist any longer, but where they wish to resume repair and maintenance of available Soviet origin helicopters. As soon as we complete a set of works and sign contractual documents to regulate a procedure for performance of works in interests, including, of third countries, we are ready to issue such licenses, if, of course, these enterprises conform with all requirements of the manufacturer, and, most important, the developer of helicopters.
- What is the organizer of the tender for repairs of 36 Mil helicopters?
- NAMSA is the initiator and organizer of the tender that is about to begin. We filed necessary documents to NAMSA in December, having informed them that any works on Mil helicopters not agreed with Russia would be illegitimate. I would like to highlight a positive NATO response. They want all works to be done according to the law.
- What Russian organization will do the job?
- It is, first and foremost, OPK OBORONPROM that has already been certifying enterprises so that to sign relevant international treaties regulating procedure for works.
We are much concerned about works in interests of third countries, as besides the tender for 36 helicopters, it is the case relating to many foreign countries in Africa, and South East Asia, which apply for maintenance assistance.
It is a matter of documentation delivery, author’s supervision, and supply of these enterprises with spare parts and units.
- Another important area of cooperation with the NATO is the use of Russian An-124 Ruslan planes for airlifting of the North Atlantic alliance troops under the SALIS program. Has an agreement for this program extended for 2011? How do you estimate development prospects of this program?
- Yes, we have extended the agreement. Moreover, we believe that the role of Russia, and Russian planes in this program will be broader as we propose economically beneficial terms. A history of the use of Russian planes in these markets allows us to speak about both high quality and reliability of services, and performance of all obligations under this program without any delays and restrictions. Everything fixed in contractual documents is performed strictly to the point and in time.
We also propose to expand the fleet of our planes in service of the NATO by Il-76 planes. The NATO operates planes of a similar class, but we still do not exclude such option.
- Resuming mass production of An-124 Ruslan aircraft in Ulyanovsk is much discussed today. Can the NATO countries participate in this project, taking into account that they are customers of these vehicles?
- No, it is not the case. I think that for us, and Russia, in whole, resuming manufacture of super-heavy cargo aircraft for outsize loads is a matter of prestige. Need for such aircraft as An-124 Ruslan is obvious. Decision to re-launch their manufacture has been made. It is not old An-124 versions to be resumed, but upgraded aircraft fitted with state of the art avionics, and engines. All in all, it is a higher class aircraft.
Date of publication: 05.04.2011