From Russia, with fighters and more

 - December 12, 2006, 6:36 AM

Celebrating the fifth anniversary since its formation, Rosoboronexport has successfully promoted the sale of Russian aerospace products, valued at more than $5 billion, for the last couple of years. The company manages about 90 percent of Russian defense exports and current orders totaling some $12 billion will keep the country’s factories busy into at least 2008.

The Rosoboronexport stand in the East Hall at the Dubai 2005 show is promoting no fewer than 40 Russian aerospace and defense establishments encompassing more than 200 different examples of aerospace, weaponry and air defense technology. One of the highlights of the show is the MiG-29SMT combat aircraft, two examples of which are here–one flying and one on static display. Sukhoi’s Su-30MKI fighter is also on display.

Sukhoi has certainly made a great impression with its family of fighters and several derivatives of the Su-27 aircraft being promoted here, including the Su-35 multirole combat aircraft, Su-32 multirole fighter bomber, Su-25SM and Su-29 strike aircraft, Su-24 bomber and Su-33 carrier-borne aircraft. The Su-30MKI variant in service with the Indian air force is said to be the most maneuverable aircraft in service today as it is the only fighter in the world equipped with thrust-vectoring engines.

Russia has also had helicopter export success in many countries. Consequently, Rosoboronexport is promoting the broad range of Mil and Kamov designs produced by several companies in Russia. These include the Mi-35 export versions of the Mi-24 gunship, as well as the Mi-28 in its NE day/night highly maneuverable combat gunship dubbed the Night Hunter.

With many combat aircraft now surplus to requirements following the end of the Cold War, Russia is marketing highly modernized Mi-35 models for export. However, Russia has been increasingly critical of foreign companies in eastern Europe that have set out to offer upgrades without the participation of the original design bureau. These feature not only helicopters such as the Mi-8 and Mi-24 but a range of fixed-wing aircraft. Alleging these activities to be illegal and resulting in counterfeit products, Rosoboronexport delegation head Mikhail Zavaliy argued that aircraft safety could be jeopardized.  

Nevertheless, the company is quite willing to work with others in the establishment of regional service centers and has doubled the size of system projects for several nations. Aware that a number of Russian combat systems have great potential for upgrading, Rosoboronexport proposes several programs to extend the capability of Russian equipment.  

However, the prospects for selling new equipment in the Middle East are perceived to be good, Morocco being a new customer for defense equipment, while Jordan has  contracted to buy two Ilyushin Il-76MF military transports–the first export customer for this aircraft.