The main focus of the Russian aircraft industry was the ongoing ‘special military operation’ but “we are committed to fulfilling the requirements of our partners”, said CEO of United Aircraft Corporation of Russia Yury Slusar on Tuesday while also stating that they were the only partner which could offer over 60% transfer of technology to meet India’s fighter requirements.
“We are facing two challenges. One with civil and another with military. With civil our main task is to substitute foreign aircraft with indigenous ones… With military the main focus is the special military operation that is under way,” Mr. Slusar said in an interaction with visiting journalists at the ongoing Army-2022 exhibition. “At the same time, we remain a reliable partner. All our contracts are in place, and we are maintaining good relations with our partners.”
Three main tasks
On the civilian side, he said they had three main tasks. First was to continue stable operation of Russian aircraft in the fleet, second was to complete substitution programme and third to increase volumes of production to 120 units a year. “Now we are making 40 aircraft per year which need a three-fold increase and which we should as soon as possible. Because Boeing and Airbus fleet will age and need to be replaced with Russian aircraft,” he stated.
On the military front their main task was to jointly work with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for maintenance of the fleet and also to produce new aircraft as per government schedule, Mr. Slusar said elaborating. “Despite the difficulties with logistics and payments, we are fulfilling all our contracts and supply of new aircraft.”
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine in February, defence officials in India had stated that the armed forces had stocks of spares and supplies for 8-10 months and with the war stretching, now nearing six months, there are apprehensions on Russia’s ability to adhere to the timelines for both spares as well as new deliveries.
Acknowledging that there were difficulties with logistics, payments and money transfers, Mr. Slusar said they were fully engaged with their partners. “We are alive, we are working, we are working with our partners. And we continue to be a reliable partner for our MoD and our customers,” he asserted.
To a question on the performance of the Russian aircraft in the war in Ukraine, Mr. Slusar added that a lot of aircraft and helicopters had participated in the “special military operation” and they were “efficient and comply with the requirements of the MoD.”
Responding to questions on this issue in early May, Army Chief Gen. Manoj Pande had acknowledged the Army’s dependency on certain weapon systems specially in the area of air defence, rockets, missiles and certain tanks from Russia and Ukraine and said that as far as the immediate impact was concerned “the supply chain of certain spares and ammunition has got impacted to some extent, but we have adequate stocks to last for a reasonable period of time.”
He added that they were also looking at certain alternative mitigation measures and identifying alternative sources from friendly foreign countries while in the long term, this was also an opportunity for the private industry to step up production and meet the requirements.
Another major issue was payments for deals under way and officials had stated that smaller payments had since resumed but efforts were still on for larger payments.
On the upgrade of the Su-30 MKI fighter jets in the Indian Air Force, for which discussions have been going on for a long time, Mr. Slusar said they had offered their vision of the upgrade programme and it was an ongoing discussion with the IAF. In the nearest future “we plan to visit India and have meaningful discussions to move forward on this issue”, he added.