FSMTC: Do not confuse the Mi-17V5 contract with the Trust Fund with NATO
Last week marked with an historical event in the relations between Russia and the USA. Americans bought from Russians 21 Mi-17V5 new transport military helicopters for operations in Afghanistan. This is an unprecedented event in a new history of the relations between the two countries.
Once, in the 19th century, Avrora and Varyag warships were built at the shipyard in Philadelphia. But it was long time ago. And now, to explain how it is today, our special correspondent Sergey Safronov asked Deputy Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation Vyacheslav Dzirkaln
- Vyacheslav Karlovich, what is the rationale behind the intention of the USA to buy Russian helicopters for the Afghani army?
The USA is interested in the Russian helicopters because they are widely recognized in the world market of arms and military equipment. Mi-17 helicopters are effectively used for multiple tasks, both military, and civil, as well as suitable for operations in difficult environmental conditions. Afghani pilots have experience in flying these helicopters, and their ground service; on top of that, they are less costly than the American analogues.
- Concerning cost. Officially, the contract cost has not been announced. The Russian mass media quoted various figures from USD367.5 to 375 million …
- The figures quoted by the press reflect a real state of affairs, but any price of any transaction is a trade secret. Therefore, we will not disclose a real figure of the contract, but nevertheless, the figures quoted by mass media are indicative of a substantial cooperation scope.
We have agreed that in the long term, such cooperation will continue, including through maintaining delivered helicopters by the Russian enterprises.
- In other words, Russia and the USA will further develop military and technical cooperation?
- Yes, and we hope that we will not stop at this point. Moreover, during consultations after signing the contract, we discussed other possible projects in the near future. They are not outlined, but both parties expressed their willingness. The helicopter subject remains on the agenda; other areas might appear.
But the helicopter subject will develop, it is obvious.
- And who will sell to whom? We to Americans or they to us?
- It is a matter of selling Russian vehicles to Americans since, as to Afghanistan, American specialists say that to retrain the Afghani military personnel, who got used to operate Soviet and Russian equipment, is too costly. Therefore, a rational approach to this matter is justified. The approach corresponds to interests of both parties - the USA, and Russia.
- What weapons will be mounted on USA helicopters for Afghanistan?
- These are transport military helicopters to be additionally equipped under the USA and the NATO standards.
- Vyacheslav Karlovich, please, tell about the purpose of the Trust Fund? To service helicopters bought by Americans in Afghanistan? What is the relation?
- None. Do not put together different things. Talks on setting the Trust Fund are conducted not with the USA, but with NATO. We are working on the subject, and we are close to the solution. Talks are at the final stage.
There are different talks with the USA, and the NATO on purchase of helicopters. As a result, talks with the USA ended with signing a contract for purchase of helicopters, and talks with NATO transformed into intention to create the Fund to service Russian Mi helicopters operated by NATO.
- And what is the main point?
- Ideology will be as such – the Russian contribution will be in the form of spare parts, and training of specialists. It (contribution) will be equivalent to the financial contribution of key members. We are interested in this Fund as Mi helicopters are a core subject of this project.
The Fund is to provide operations of helicopters available in the countries of the NATO and used in Afghanistan. This is the training of Afghani specialists involved in the NATO Coalition Forces, not American, I underline. Americans are a separate case. In this format, there was a proposal to create a Trust Fund.
The thing is that NATO countries widely use Mi helicopters. One and a half year ago, we said at one of sessions that Russia is not happy with the situation, when Mi helicopters are recognized as Russian brand, but, in fact, Russia has no relation to them. We do not know the origin of spare parts, we are not aware of how those helicopters are upgraded, and how maintenance bulletins, including on safety of flights, are observed. Therefore, we said that we are ready to cooperation with Europeans in respect of maintaining serviceability of helicopters operated by NATO.
- What are nuts and bolts of the cooperation?
- Now, for example, we are at the stage of certification of enterprises for repair of helicopters of the countries of the former Warsaw Treaty - Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Bulgaria. It is done to confirm their ability to carry out a certain amount of works to be agreed on with and monitored by the developer of Mi helicopters. Therefore, the ideology of this Fund is to provide, first of all, safety of helicopter flights, supply these helicopters with genuine spare parts, and establish contacts with the developer and the manufacturer of these helicopters.
That is the Trust Fund, on the one hand, is to deal with counterfeit items, and, on the other hand, support reputation of Mi helicopters. But once again, I underline to prevent any mess in the press: the Fund will not serve helicopters under the contract concluded with the USA.
- And how will "American" helicopters be served?
- Under the contract with the Americans, we agreed, among other things, on further support and maintenance of these helicopters by Russia in collaboration with respective organisations in the USA. Not through NATO.
The Trust Fund is Europe, the contract is the USA. Let's make such a difference. In no way, these two contracts overlap. We informed Americans that we carry out the work with Europeans. They know about it. We informed that a number of enterprises in East European countries will be certificated to further carry out repair, and upgrading, but with support and through collaboration with Mil. If they want to use it they can do it.
But we said that under the project with the USA, a certain structure will be created in Afghanistan, as to carry helicopters from Afghanistan and repair them in Europe is expensive. And the European helicopters are based in Europe, and they fly to Afghanistan only for performance of a mission for a certain time interval.
- How many Mi helicopters are operated by NATO?
- And we also want to know the exact figure and requested it from them. But at a rough guess, they are more than 100.
- Why has the USA made choice for Mi-17 helicopters?
- This model fits most appropriately USA requirements to spare parts, and aircraft acceptance. Helicopter roles are different too, but, generally, they are used for transportation of staff, cargoes, safety of flights, and infantry passage. You know what kind of roads are in Afghanistan; therefore, helicopters are given a priority.
- Have you worked over the contract with Americans for a long time?
- We have been in coordinating process from last August to 26th of May.
The whole contract consists of 1,070 pages, including a commercial part and technical requirements. Reaching an agreement was not an easy thing.
Date of publication: 01.08.2011