On the eve of the International Aerospace Show MAKS-2011, FSMTC Deputy Director Konstantin BIRYULIN gave answers to questions of Interfax-AVN. He told about prospects of military-technical cooperation between Russia and foreign states in the military aircraft engineering.
- Konstantin Nikolaevich, what will be highlights of MAKS - 2011?
- First, MAKS will be held for the tenth time, and it is a remarkable anniversary. Second, I would like to pay your attention, and that this year, our aerospace show will be held against the background of two space anniversaries – 50th anniversary of flights of our cosmonauts Yury Alekseevich Gagarin and Herman Stepanovich Titov. Both of these events rendered a great influence on development of the world astronautics, and the worldwide authority of our country. It would be a good thing to remember our heroes, space pilots at the aerospace show MAKS-2011.
By the way, the Russian Space Agency and the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation made their contribution to promoting space achievements of our country in the anniversary year. For example, a number of events devoted to the anniversary of the first man-made space flight were organized with a strong support of FSMTC of Russia in the recently held Australia aerospace show.
- Aerospace show in Zhukovsky is traditionally favourably notable for a rich flight program, and abundance of demo air vehicles. But for some reason, it essentially loses to its international colleagues, so to say, on the financial magnitude, that is volumes of concluded contracts for aircraft sale. Why is it so, in your opinion?
- Really, it is a common world practice to assess any exhibition based on volumes of signed contracts. Certainly, contracts are not prepared for a specific date, for example, to the beginning of an aerospace show. Contract preparation is a long process of agreeing on terms of delivery, price and other parameters. But signing of such documents abroad, as a rule, is announced in public during high-profile events. Why our MAKS cannot be proud of the same volume of signed contracts as, let’s say, the French Le Bourget or English Farnborough, I do not know. Most likely, the reason is rooted in us.
Here, for example, a large-scale contract signing between the Russian Space Agency and the European Space Agency for the use of the Russian carrier rockets Soyuz for launches from the space centre in the French Guiana was announced at one of the last aerospace shows in Le Bourget. This million worth transaction was written to the credit of the French exhibition, but could be attributed to MAKS financial successes held in two months after Le Bourget. Why not to sign this agreement later in Zhukovsky? As they say, there is no answer.
And such examples, unfortunately, are many.
As to Europeans, they date signing of major agreements to important events. Quite probably, it is not signing of a technical contract, but, so to say, a certain political cover of this contract. In other words, they sell themselves to the public.
FSMTC of Russia believes that it would be a good and fair thing to sign major contracts during such significant events, as MAKS or other arms exhibitions. It would give additional weight to exhibition events and enhance the authority of the country. We have many a time drawn attention of MTC affiliated entities to this issue, and continue to do so. Certainly, this work needs to be systematic and persistent.
Large-scale contracts for military-technical cooperation are not expected to be signed at the MAKS -2011 aerospace show. Probably, supplements could be signed to already effective contracts. At the same time, predictably, the Defence Minister of Russia will announce contracts for supply of military aircraft in Zhukovsky. For certain, there will be civil aircraft contracts.
On the other hand, our MAKS, as you have fairly noted, is traditionally famous for demo flight program, and high attendance. You should agree it is also important to attract as much as possible public to see Russian achievements in astronautics and aircraft engineering. MAKS enthusiastically involves leading world aircraft manufacturers which are keen to use this authoritative exhibition platform to show their products. I think this year, MAKS aerospace show will demonstrate its commitments to traditions.
- Have you received many orders arrived from foreign participants for visiting aerospace show?
- I think MAKS-2011 will hit a record by quantity of foreign participants, at least, in the military-technical cooperation. We hope that it will be visited by representatives of almost all countries with which we co-operate. And it is more than 60 states. All embassies, all attaches accredited in Moscow are invited. Therefore, the quantity of foreign delegations in Zhukovsky will be record making.
- Unfortunately, there are not so many achievements in the Russian civil aircraft engineering. Liners of foreign manufacture are mostly operated by our air companies. And what is the situation with military aircraft engineering? Is it competitive in the world?
- The military component of our aircraft engineering is quite competitive in the world. In terms of performance, our aircraft are in no way inferior to American, nor European analogues. Our aircraft are in strong demand on the market. The aircraft component is prevailing in the amount of arms export. I think, and this year, a share of military aircraft will be responsible for more than half of the Russian export of military-purpose products.
We have a certain "portfolio" of orders, there are promising areas, so, our positions in this segment of the aircraft are strong enough. And FSMTC of Russia pursues one of its objectives to promote sale of this equipment by Russian enterprises.
Certainly, there are some minor logistics issues relating to maintenance of supplied equipment. We have been focusing on these issues over the recent years, and have certain wins.
- The world has increasingly shown reliance on unmanned aircraft. But our producers of such equipment seem not to be properly fitted for this equipment; otherwise, the Russian MoD would not buy drones from Israel?
- Generally, there is nothing wrong in buying new technologies abroad. Why cannot we take the best world developments, study them, understand weaknesses and strengths, and draw conclusions? It is normal.
As to unmanned technology, it is absolutely wrong to say that Russia in this area has lagged behind forever. Recently, many Russian firms have offered on the market models of unmanned systems no worse than the best foreign analogues. Look, for example, at the newest developments in this area of the Tranzas Petersburg Company, and other companies from Kazan, Izhevsk, and Irkutsk.
Yes, we’d better not out foreign models on a pedestal. For example, I was told that the same notorious Israeli "drones" during tests in one of the CIS countries in winter conditions were simply iced over. Their target locating equipment could not operate effectively, so, it is always necessary to remember specific conditions when using different type of arms.
There are problems with electronic component base, and microelectronics. They are hard to tackle. Limitations on access to the electronic component base of a space and military level of reliability are imposed on Russian enterprises abroad. Electronic components of the international industry class, unfortunately, do not provide high reliability and a lengthy resource of products. For this reason, claims relating to individual models of supplied products are frequent. Really, there is a problem with electronic component base. To solve it at the level of enterprises is hardly possible. Respective measures to be taken by the Government to develop microelectronics are high on the agenda. And they have already been taken.
- An agreement for launches of German surveillance radar satellites with help of Russian carrier rockets Kosmos-3M from the Plesetsk space center was signed with the German Space Agency at MAKS aerospace show. Will this example of military-technical cooperation in the space activity have continuation?
- The Federal space agency is responsible for this area, that is for the use of the Russian space infrastructure in interests of the international cooperation. FSMTC of Russia renders to the Russian Space Agency assistance in delivery of such contracts, naturally, in pursuance of current legislation. For example, when a foreign military department acts as customer for launch services or when a military satellite is launched. I think that this area is very promising, and the Russian Space Agency can always count on support of FSMTC of Russia in its development.
- Along with the Russian grandees of aircraft engineering, such as Sukhoi or MiG, cooperation enterprises will be presented at the air show MAKS-2011. Many of them, by the way, are entitled to carry out independent foreign trade activities regarding deliveries of accessories, spare parts, and maintenance. Has practice of expansion of number of similar MTC affiliated entities justified itself?
- Of course, assigning to the enterprises rights of MTC affiliated entities has justified itself, at least, because over the recent years, they have considerably increased the volume of deliveries of spare parts and accessories.
But it is not the key point. The quantity of MTC affiliated entities has been increased in order to find solutions to major challenges – to improve logistics, service quality for foreign buyers of our arms and military vehicles. And many enterprises have shown their high commitment to the objective. For example, the Urals Optical and Mechanical Plant have shown strong developments in their efforts to support maintenance of aircraft equipment supplied abroad under export contracts.
A certain strategy has been developed by OBORONPROM and the Vertolyoty Rossii Holding. They offer very interesting projects to expand a worldwide service network for helicopters of the Russian manufacture. We hope that their delivery will give an additional impulse to promoting our helicopters on the world market, and maintenance of technical capabilities of a huge fleet of Mi and Ka helicopters abroad.
Our partners will receive exhaustive information on these issues.
I am sure that MAKS will not disappoint all aircraft fans.
Date of publication: 14.11.2011