A Russian expo of weapons, military hardware and ammunition ended in Nizhny Tagil last week. As a rule, this expo is organized once every two years. The expo is aimed at displaying Russian tanks and missile and artillery weapons in action. This time around 400 representatives from 42 countries, including Austria, Belgium, the UK, Germany, Canada, China, Saudi Arabia, the US, France, Sweden and Israel, participated in the expo. Around 50,000 people visited the expo. Organizers state that this year the expo has become profitable, though they did not announce the sum of contracts.

Sergei Chemezov, general director of Rosoboronexport, Sverdlovsk Governor Edward Rossel, General of the Army Anatoly Kvashnin, Chief of the General Staff, and representatives of the government and the Defense Ministry visited the expo. Over 2,700 models of weapons and ammunition were displayed at the expo: the T-90S and T-80UK tanks, engineering vehicles on their basis, the BTR-60PB and BTR-70 armored personnel carriers, the MSTA-S self-propelled howitzer (152 and 155 mm), the Nona-SVK self-propelled artillery complex (120 mm), the BRDM-2 armored reconnaissance vehicle and more.

Krasnaya Zvezda noted that visitors were interested in the BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicle, the DT-30PM caterpillar transporter, the KM-1 Krasnopol complex of guided weapons (155 mm), the RBU-6000 jet bombing complex, the Shturm-V high-precision complex of guided weapons with the Ataka-V modernized missile, and the AGS-17 anti-personnel automatic grenade cup discharge.

A principally new weapon was displayed at the expo: a tank support combat vehicle created by Uralvagonzavod. Specialists from Libya and China were interested in the modernized T-72 tank. It is armed with 125-mm gun, guided weapons, an anti-aircraft machine gun, an up-to-date fire control system, dynamic protection and a satellite navigation system. The Ural mechano-optical plant intends to supply spare parts for the Su-27 fighters to Ethiopia. In addition, the enterprise signed a protocol on supplying its hardware to the Kazakh Air Force.

Benjamin Elinson, deputy general director of the Ural mechano-optical plant, stated that Kazakh specialists received a range of spare parts and documents needed for teaching specialists to repair optic-electronic systems of the Su-27 and MiG-29 fighters. In addition, Elinson stated that Kazakhstan intends to modernize the Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters.

Mr. Elinson said: “We think that these are realistic orders for our optic-electronic systems and spare parts for serial aircrafts.”

In addition, Russian enterprises held negotiations with Indian representatives. They mainly concern the BMP-3, T-72, night vision devices, the Nakidka camouflaging complex, the Tor-M1 anti-aircraft complex and modernization of anti-aircraft systems. It should be noted that Russian representatives made contacts with NATO member nations. In particular, the UK delegation held negotiations regarding the Sprut-SD self-propelled anti-tank gun and the Vena self-propelled artillery complex. France and Netherlands were interested in night visions devices for armored vehicles and the BMP-3 respectively. The 1B66 automatic station for ballistic preparations for shooting created by the Strela research institute was displayed at the arms expo. The station was added to arsenals of the Russian Army. Many foreign visitors were interested in this system.

The most encouraging fact is that regular financing of military-industrial enterprises of the region will start in 2005. Victor Batuyev, executive director of Union of defense enterprises of the Sverdlovsk region, stated that the increase of the state defense order will affect Ural defense enterprises. He said: “The Army will buy guns by plant No. 9 (Yekaterinburg), chassis by Uraltransmash and tanks by Uralvagonzavod.” Mr. Batuyev said that the state defense order will be increasing, and account for three-fourth of sales of defense enterprises. In addition, the situation in the military-technical cooperation sector will improve. Krasnaya Zvezda reports that the sum of contracts signed by Sverdlovsk defense enterprises amounts to over $1 billion.

In other words, the expo has shown that the expo deserves the status of international. At the same time, observers note that the expo has revealed a range of problems. Rossiiskaya Gazeta’s observers Sergei Ptichkin and Boris Yamshanov state that entrance tickets and hotels are too expensive. In addition, Rosoboronexport failed to invite enough specialists and journalists to the expo in Nizhny Tagil.