No one in Russia’s defense industries will say Moscow’s program of import substitution isn’t going well. But, while acknowledging some success, the Supreme CINC intimates it could be going better. Izvestiya recapped Putin’s remarks last week as follows [my trans.]:
Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged mistakes in planning the import substitution program in the defense-industrial complex (OPK). According to him, they caused movement in the deadlines for several state defense orders in 2018.
“Considering the complexity and interconnection of all our rearmament plans for the army and navy, such failures have to be effectively eliminated,” the head of state said at a session of the Military-Industrial Commission on Thursday, September 19.
Putin also ordered the government and leading departments “to take supplementary measures to guarantee technological independence in the area of military production.” Including those products in the design phase.
The head of state also noted that the process of import substitution in the OPK is ongoing and Russia has achieved technological independence in more than 350 types of armaments.
“The import substitution program began five years ago, over this time we’ve really managed to advance somewhat, at least in a number of significant directions,” TASS cited Putin.
The President noted that in recent years the share of the domestic electronic component base in modern types of armaments has grown substantially and the production of engines for helicopters and Navy (VMF) ships has been arranged.
“Also soon it will be possible to repair engines for An-124 aircraft in Russian enterprises,” he added.
On August 1, 2018, Deputy Prime Minister Yuriy Borisov announced a possible breakdown in the deadline for delivering combat ships to the VMF in 2018. He noted that the state “practically every year” struggles “with systematic violations of the period for supplying ships and boats to the VMF by a number of shipbuilding enterprises.”
Meanwhile in February 2018, Pavel Pechkovskiy, a directorate chief in the Defense Ministry’s Department for Support of the State Defense Order for Ships and Naval Armaments, related that practically all main equipment for VMF ships had been fully shifted to domestic types in the framework of import substitution.
Mr. Putin doesn’t sound particularly pleased, and his praise is faint (“really managed to advance somewhat”). He was likely more frank behind closed doors.
The share of domestic electronics “has grown,” but Putin doesn’t tell us where it stands in absolute terms.
But in May, an economist writing in VPK estimated not more than 15 percent of the “electronic component base” (EKB) is Russian-made, and not less than 70 percent of the OPK is buying foreign EKB in the same volume as always.
The Russians are producing the VK-2500 gas turbine to power their military helicopters. They used to get helicopter engines from Motor Sich in Ukraine.
As Putin noted, Russian industry is updating the D-18T engine for the Ukrainian-made An-124 transport. The modernization of the An-124 is supposed to carry the transport into the 2040s.
Meanwhile, the Antonov Design Bureau in Kyiv claims Moscow lacks many essentials to overhaul the An-124 (e.g. documents, design drawings, test data). And AO UZGA is having difficulties that may be technical or financial in renovating the D-18T. Of course, the updated D-18T isn’t really an import substitute.
Then there are naval gas turbine engines for Russia. They too were formerly made in Ukraine and need replacement. Russian engine-builder ODK asserted earlier in September that its enterprises are now filling all orders for engines once supplied by Motor Sich. But Izvestiya leaves the reader wondering if ships due this year will be late anyway.
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