Despite opposition from Moscow, Ukraine's Ukroboronprom has decided to pitch for Indian contracts for the supply of components and repair of Russian-origin aircraft of the Indian Air Force, Director General Pavlo Bukin told Defenseworld.net in an interview.
DW : What are the most important achievements of the SC "UkrOboronProm" in recent years?
Pavlo Bukin: For four years Ukraine has been resisting military aggression of the Russian Federation. Therefore, providing the Armed Forces and other security agencies of the country with modern, reliable armament is the main mission of the State Concern. During the war years, over 18 thousand units of armament and military equipment were transferred to the Army. In 2017, 3 673 units of weapons and military equipment were transferred to the Armed Forces, the National Guard, and other security agencies of Ukraine, of which 2,053 - new and modernized units. In 2017, the State Concern received about $ 1 billion of net operating income. We also provide contract conditions with our international partners. We continue our cooperation with India. Just days ago, we fulfilled contract for supplying the main battle tanks "Oplot" to Thailand.
DW : In which international projects has the SC "UkrOboronProm" taken part and what are the advantages for both sides?
Pavlo Bukin: We have launched a number of joint projects with our international partners. In 2017, SE "Kharkiv Morozov Machine-Building Design Bureau" and the Polish "Bumar" jointly launched in-depth modernization of the T-72 tank. The project received the name “PT-17” and is highly appreciated by the Polish side. Ukraine demonstrated ability to participate in large-scale and technologically complex projects according to NATO standards, let me recall that Poland is a member of the Alliance. Another example: Ukrainian defenders, fighting against Russian troops and mercenaries, as well as pro-Russian separatists, have long suffered from reconnaissance drones. The State Joint Stock Holding Company “Artem” - together with the WB Group (Poland) - created a new type of weapon - ZRN-01 Stokrotka. This multiple rocket launcher combines 80 mm rockets with a ground launcher, equipped with a Topaz fire control system. The programmed head allows the system to fight drones and helicopters, flying at low altitudes within a radius of 4 km. In general, we are expanding cooperation with Poland. Such well-known projects as the high-precision munitions "Kvitnyk" (SE "Scientific-production complex "Progress", Central Design Bureau «Tochnist», Nizhyn) and a guided mortar projectile (SKDB "Luch", Kyiv) are being improved within the framework of joint projects with Poland. Together with the American company “Aeroscraft” – in the frameworks of transition to NATO standards - we initiated the creation of a licensed version of the M-16-WAC-47 assault rifle. So we plan on switching to NATO calibers. UKROBORONPROM (UOP) cooperation with the American company Delphi Corporation is a good example to mention. Last year, the agreement between UOP enterprises and Delphi on investments in a new electrotech enterprise - State Enterprise "Electrical Systems" - was concluded. The enterprise will provide jobs to 3 thousand specialists.
DW : Describe the problems, encountered by UKROBORONPROM as a result of rupture of relations with the Russian Federation.
Pavlo Bukin: All enterprises of Ukrainian military industrial complex (MIC) traditionally cooperated with enterprises of the Russian Federation. In 2014, with the onset of Russia's military aggression, we curtailed military technical cooperation with it. It was a difficult decision, as Ukraine had no full production cycle in many directions and felt its dependence on the Russian Federation. Exports to the Russian Federation in the sales structure of Ukrainian enterprise “Zorya-Mashproekt” - one of the world's leaders in turbo-engine construction - reached 40%. Exports of the well-known in the world, and in particular in India, aircraft manufacturer SE “Antonov” amounted to 30%. In 2014, when UOP enterprises stopped deliveries to Russia, we lost up to 15% of exports. The defense industry of Ukraine has not completely overcome its dependence on the import of Russian components. First of all it concerns military aviation, in particular helicopters, air defense systems, artillery weapons. We used to import defense and dual-purpose products from the Russian Federation for the maintenance and repair of the military equipment units, mentioned above. Today the State Concern is implementing the import substitution program. We engage domestic and foreign enterprises in the manufacture of products that were previously supplied from Russia. Until recently, the Ukrainian MIC and the military equipment, operated by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, were largely dependent on cooperation with the Russian Federation (RF). Import substitution program allows to break this dependence, by adopting the military equipment of domestic production and the one, purchased from partner countries. In order to compensate for the losses, caused by the termination of relations with Russia, UKROBORONPROM activates cooperation with the USA, Canada, India, the EU countries (Great Britain, Poland, Lithuania), Belarus, etc. Among the priority areas: high-precision weapons - primarily AT - navigation facilities, avionics, radio intelligence, communications, UAVs, light armored vehicles, etc.
DW : There is a lot of negative information in international media on Ukraine and your companies, representing the country on the world arms market. How will Ukraine respond to it?
Pavlo Bukin: Let me note that with the onset of military aggression Ukraine faced increasing RF efforts of information manipulation. Therefore, today I’m talking with a representative of the influential international news portal "Defense World" to inform our partners and the expert community about my country’s position: Ukraine is a reliable partner for cooperation and for achieving success. Our opponents’ goal is to push Ukraine out of its traditional markets, including the Indian market. Especially in the context of the fact that Russia is losing traditionally strong positions in India. I am confident that the Kremlin is behind fakes and manipulations about the alleged inability of Ukraine to fulfill certain contracts with India. The Russians openly question Ukraine's right to perform repairs and modernization of aircraft, developed in the USSR. At the same time, claims of the Russian side concerning their exclusive development rights are legally null and void. Ukrainian enterprises have technical documentation necessary for the maintenance of aircraft, the developers of which reside in the Russian Federation - MiG, Su, Il, Mi. The rights to repair these aircraft types were obtained in accordance with the procedures, established in the USSR, with the transfer of a set of documentation: They are not retroactive. There are no legal grounds for additional licensing. For example, Poland solved the problem of Mig-29 fleet upgrading - not referring to the Russian developer - having created, certified and put into service their own version of the modernized MiG-29. The RF itself demonstrates double standards, having refused repair and modernization services of the Ukrainian developer of "An" transport aircraft SE “Antonov.” Therefore, I emphasize once again that Ukraine is a reliable and predictable partner in the field of military-technical cooperation, including for our Indian partners.
DW : As for the Indian market, what problems are you facing and what opportunities are available to you?
Pavlo Bukin: India is our big friend and strategic partner. It is important for us to achieve strategic partnership in the defense sphere with a great nation. We believe that India can become such a country. For three years, the export of Ukrainian military products to India amounted to about $ 400 million, “Zorya-Mashproekt” exported $ 200 million worth of products to this country. We are talking about gas turbines for combat ships of the Naval Forces. We consider providing repair services and modernization of your country's aircraft fleet, joint development of aviation equipment, promotion of Ukrainian high-precision weapons, joint projects in the field of communications to be prospective directions in the MTC with India. We welcome the statement by the head of the Indian diplomatic mission in Kyiv, Mr. Manoj Kumar Bharti, that India is considering MTC expansion with Ukraine as part of the defense strategy. Mr. Ambassador's statement that Delhi regards Kyiv's planned defense policy transfer to NATO standards as a factor in increasing Ukrainian defense products reliability is important to us. I personally listened attentively to the words of the Ambassador that procurement of Ukrainian arms and components will be taken into account in India's defense budget. We appreciate the friendly attitude of our Indian partners to Ukraine and are ready to develop our cooperation. I am confident that our relations will not be affected by third-party information attacks, trying to discredit Ukraine as a reliable product manufacturer and service provider. UKROBORONPROM enterprises are actively cooperating with the Indian side in the market of weapons and military equipment. During 2017, only “Spetstechnoexport” signed contracts for a total amount of more than $ 35 million. In 2017 signed a number of agreements on partnership in the field of aircraft construction and repair, modernization of armored vehicles, naval equipment servicing, UAVs manufacture and supply. We also cooperate with the Indian company "HAL". Over 5 months, contracts with this company - totaling over $ 6 million - were concluded. The contract between “Spetstechnoexport” and “HAL” for the supply of beam holders was successfully implemented, despite Russia’s statements about Ukraine's alleged failure to do so. We receive invitations to participate in new tenders for the repair and supply of components for military aircraft.
DW : What measures are being taken to integrate the Ukrainian defense industry into the global production system?
Pavlo Bukin: UKROBORONPROM is already part of the global arms market and world security. Our country formalized Euro-Atlantic integration priority through legislation. UOP specialists participate in the work of the groups and subgroups of the Conference of National Armaments Directors, NATO multinational “Smart Defence” projects, NATO Support and Procurement Agency cooperation programs. The Ukrainian defense industry supports the task of implementing NATO standards. For example, Ukrainian BTR-4, manufactured in Kharkiv, is adapted to NATO standards. Domestic military equipment allows Ukrainian military to conduct joint training with NATO armies, demonstrating appropriate training level. We have examples of joint cooperation in aviation, armored vehicles, etc. Last year, Ukrainian SE "Antonov" introduced a new aircraft An-132D - the result of the integration of the Ukrainian scientific school and innovations. In record time - 1.5 years we moved from idea to a full-fledged product. The experience acquired allows Ukrainian engineers to quickly redesign and integrate components of foreign production into any type of aircraft engineering.
DW : What new products are expected from Ukraine's defense industry enterprises in the coming years?
Pavlo Bukin: History teaches that war always gives impetus to the development of arms and defense industry. The war with the Russian Federation has made Ukraine and its military industrial complex stronger. As a result of combat experience, our engineers introduced and implemented a large number of technical solutions in the armored vehicles, passed into service: Only BTR-4 has over 900 changes. These solutions allowed to improve tactical and operational characteristics of the equipment. Today Ukrainian military equipment has a unique advantage: it is battle-tested. Its reliability and efficiency is proved by Ukrainian fighters, who stopped the fifth largest army of the world. Recently, the State Concern developed the unmanned UGV "Phantom", a digital fire control system "Myslyvets’", a line of new combat modules, new generation armored vehicles, based on the modular concept, high-precision missile armaments, combat and reconnaissance drones. SJSHC "Artem" successfully tested 152 mm artillery ammunition of own production. Thus, Ukraine received own production of large caliber artillery ammunition. The new HE projectile is designed to destroy personnel, artillery and firepower of the enemy, as well as fortification structures and objects. It is designed for one of the most far-ranging artillery systems -"Hiatsynt". We are testing many Ukrainian defense industry developments in the ATO zone.
DW : Ukraine remains behind Russian and other largest exporters of military equipment. What are your plans and goals for boosting exports?
Pavlo Bukin: According to SIPRI - over five years (2013-2017) - Ukraine ranked 11th among the world's arms exporters. The armed aggression against Ukraine in 2014 affected the volume of Ukrainian exports. After all, we focused on meeting immediate needs of our Armed Forces. But we are aware that it is the export of arms that generates technological and economic development of the Ukrainian defense industry. And we will definitely return to the top positions in the ranking of world's arms exporters. One of our steps towards this goal is the UOP participation in the international exhibition DEFEXPO India 2018, which will take place this year in Chennai. In the framework of this forum and the following ones, we will prove that the military equipment "Made in Ukraine" is competitive and expected on world markets. Our military equipment has a unique advantage: it is battle-tested. Thousands of Ukrainian defenders’ lives saved speak for its quality. And our enemies, who will never again raise their weapons against Ukraine or any other country. The war makes us develop, manufacture and export mostly innovative products. By the way, in 2016 UKROBORONPROM increased export volume of weapons and military equipment by almost a third. In total, over three years, export volume amounted to almost $ 2 billion. Today, the export portfolio exceeds $ 2 billion.