Rosoboronexport general director Sergei Chemezov finalized some results of military-technical cooperation between Russia and foreign nations in late April. His interview with Krasnaya Zvezda on April 28 coincided with the first anniversary of his appointment as general director of Rosoboronexport.
Chemezov said that Russia ranks among five leading arms exporters in the world. He noted that last year was the most successful – $5.12 billion. This indication could be higher. At the same time, Russia loses around $2.5 billion a year because of restrictions imposed by some Western nations on Russian arms exporters. In other words, Russia’s arms exports could be 50% higher.
It’s an alarming fact that Chemezov made no mention about the prospects of military-technical cooperation between Russia and foreign nations. For instance, he noted that the US will offer the F-35 fighter (generation five) in 2009. No one knows when Russia will do this.
Sales of drones increase on the world’s markets. Russia falls behind its rivals in this sector. Production of unmanned aircraft has not been launched in Russia. The situation in the naval and anti-aircraft sectors is a bit better. At the same time, the market of armored vehicles for the Ground Force is limited. There are some restrictions on exports of anti-aircraft complexes. The state limits its aid to defense enterprises. Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said that the state defense order must amount to only 25%-30% of defense plants’ contracts, like in the US. However, the structure of the Russian defense industry is somewhat different. Some enterprises produce only military products. On the one hand, the Russian leadership does not have programs of development of military-technical cooperation and political and economic principles in the arms business (for instance, Russia sold only short-range anti-aircraft complexes to Syria despite the fact that Damask wanted to buy long-range complexes). On the other hand, Russia does not have programs of development of the defense industry.
The Kremlin rejects the idea of establishing a Ministry of the defense Industry and refuses to support defense plants, which could become the engines of the development of Russia’s high-technology economy, despite high profits of the budget.
Specialists forecast that the Russian defense industry will die out and Russia will lose its leading positions in the military-technical cooperation sector. Boris Rapoport, general director of Alpha-Integrator, thinks that Russia may lose foreign arms markets within two or three years. According to him, Russia will lose its positions because of low quality of defense products and high cost of weapons and military hardware. In addition, the Russian military-industrial complex has managerial and information problems.
Rapoport concluded, “Russia does not offer integrated logistic support of many models of weapons. First and foremost, this concerns the technical aspect.” He noted that “Russia does not have a state program of development of the military-industrial complex”.
The specialists said, “The trend is that the decrease of sales and output of military hardware, misuse of financial resources (investment) increase the information and technological gap between the Russian and Western defense industries.” This means that in five or six years Russian defense enterprises will not be able to retain technologies needed for producing generation five weapons.
Rapoport noted, “Russian defense enterprises will depend on Western plants in the technological sector. Russian enterprises will have to cooperate with European, Indian and Chinese producers. This will be a critical point when Russia will pass over technological tasks to create generation five complexes to these countries.”
The expert thinks that India and China will be able to oust Russia from the arms market after receiving these technologies in seven to ten years.
Rapoport said, “The information and technological gap is so great that Russia cannot produce competitive weapons and military hardware. This pessimistic forecast is made on the basis of the actual situation.”
In other words, the expert thinks that it’s impossible to improve the situation without active modernization of Russian defense enterprises using the most advanced solutions. This requires money. Russia has it. The government must understand how topical the problems of the Russian defense industry and military-technical cooperation are, and started solving these problems.