Russian Defense Spending to Increase
The Russian government has approved a 50% increase in the approved state defense order for 2000. Ilya Klebanov, Deputy Prime Minister, said that, for the first time in last 10 years, the order has been approved in January, and not in mid-year. The Ministry of Defense (MoD) has already started preparing contracts to acquire armaments. The new order allows for an 80% increase in R&D, and for the acquisition of military equipment. Increased expenditure on space is also likely.
Klebanov insisted that the increase is not to fuel the campaign in Chechnya, but to improve the armed force's efficiency and mobility and is the first step towards the overall armament program planned through to 2015 currently being reviewed and expected to be approved this year.
For the aerospace industry, it seems likely that expenditure longer term will follow the focus taken by the Security Council in December 1999 as concentrating on programs considered essential to the aerospace development program. Although in December no specific programs were mentioned, funding for civil and military programs was identified as coming from state budget (annual financing of $550-$750m), state loans and commercial loans with state guarantees to support research and development of specific helicopter and aircraft programs.
Previously government sources have suggested that the priority programs for the Russian government are those with a foreign partner such as the Yak-130, MiG-AT, An-70, Mi-38 and the An-38-100. Whether these programs will benefit in the short term from the growth of defense funding will be the subject of considerable debate. The 80% increase in R&D spending however will go some way to restoring the severe cuts in the area over the last decade.
The basic/advanced training aircraft producers should benefit from the Increased expenditure, given the pressing need to replace the aging Aero L-29 Delfin /L-39C fleet, the former being delivered between 1963 and 1974 and the latter delivered in large numbers to the former USSR between 1974 and 1990 as a basic initial pilot trainer.
Both the Yak-130 and the MiG-AT, the winners in the 1992 competition for a replacement, are still being developed, but it does appear that the Yak-130 may have the edge given its association with Aermacchi and the very active financial support of the Italian government. The MiG-AT has also recently been criticized as being underpowered with its SNECMA Larzac power plant and MiG have been discussing it replacement with the RD-1700 particularly for a potential Indian order.
Transport aircraft should see increased expenditure, given the requirement to improve mobility and it appears that the recent commitments for the An-70 may actually be confirmed for early delivery. However, as with so many other area's of defense spending, cheaper alternatives may be considered in the short term given the availability of existing air frames from the fleet of 300 Il-76s.The case is being made by Ilyushin that the re-engined Il-76MFs can deliver the performance of the An-70 at a significantly lower cost than the Ukrainian/Russian program.
Helicopter programs are also likely to be major recipients in line with the clearly stated requirements from the Russian military that they require both a significant number of new transport helicopters. Colonel-General Sitnov, responsible for the army's procurement, suggested recently that the army had interest in 200 new Ka-60s and in a significant number of the attack helicopter of the Ka-50 type of which only 12-15 are currently in service, as well as upgrading programs for the army's 824 Mi-24 and the 2100 Mi-8.
Among fighter aircraft the impact of increased funding is more difficult to call. The focus on the upgrading of existing aircraft to multi role capability suggests that the attention may be primarily on the Su-30 judging by comments from sources within the air force. Other upgrade programs involving the Su-25 and Su-27 also appear likely to benefit, as will the Su-32/34 strike aircraft. The fifth generation fighter will continue to be supported although on which aircraft it will be based seems less clear of late, as reports of increasingly positive stances towards the Sukhoi S-37 appear to suggest that the MiG 1-44's position as the sole multi role fighter candidate may be less than secure.
Overall the impact of the increase in funding will be dependent on the armed force's desire to balance immediate "bang for the buck" against longer term R&D. Restoration of capability would appear to be the immediate objective, suggesting that relatively cheap upgrades may take precedence over more expensive programs in the short term.
From ConCISe Aerospace
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