Two months from now on August 16 to 21, Russia will stage its seventh Moscow Aviation and Space Exposition (MAKS, to use its Russian acronym). Held on the grounds of the historic (and once top-secret) Gromov Flight Research Institute (LII) in the suburb of Zhukovsky, the exposition has become the showcase event for aerospace enterprises in Russia and other countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States.
MAKS is much larger than most other national airshows. It owes its supersize status to the sheer number and variety of aerospace firms within Russia, plus all of the aviation firms from other republics of the former Soviet Union.
Since its first outing in the last decade, MAKS has also become a valued opportunity for foreign firms looking to sign Russian enterprises as suppliers. More than 90 percent of Russian firms still do not participate in Le Bourget, Farnborough, Singapore, Dubai or other major events in the international airshow calendar, so MAKS is still the only chance that many U.S., European or Asian aerospace firms have for meaningful dialogue with potential Russian partners.
MAKS survived a low point in the late 1990s, when some speculated that the show would die out, and has now made a rather dramatic comeback in terms of both the number of participants and the quality and professionalism of its exhibits. It attracts a modest number of international firms, such as EADS, that want to build long-term interests in Russia.
At the 2003 show a Lockheed-Martin F-16 fighter, along with a Boeing F-15 and B-52–all provided by the U.S. Air Force–participated in the MAKS flying display. “Who would have thought ten or more years ago,” said one Russian aerospace official, “that we would some day see a B-52 flying over Moscow and not be terrified.”
Those attending this year’s show are likely to notice the large “Team Sukhoi” pavilion that houses most of the major enterprises that produce subsystems for Sukhoi aircraft. These include the NIIP radar design bureau, Kaluga-based KNIRTI, which designs a range of electronic warfare systems, and the Salyut engine-making group.
Most of the major Russian aerospace firms have promised to show some new product developments at this year’s MAKS. These include new variants of the Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter aircraft, a surface-to-air version of the Vympel RVV-AE active radar-homing missile, modernized versions of the entire line of Russian-made air defense systems, new radar developments from NIIR-Phazotron, NIIP and St. Petersburg-based Leninets, as well as some advances in thrust vectoring control systems for fighter aircraft engines.
For information about the MAKS show in English, visit www.aviasalon.com/en/.