Is Sukhoi aircraft military and industrial complex changing priorities?
The situation concerning Russian weapons has been very strange since 1991, trade in arms is the strangest sphere certainly. At first, weapon producers, state mediators and commercial intermediaries could sell weapons. Then, only state mediators and producers, which were not yet incorporated, had a right to sell weapons. Further, the state-run monopoly Rosvooruzheniye was especially created for trade in arms. Then the state-run monopoly was transformed into another monopoly, Rosoboronexport. And so on. Although it is perfectly clear that if the Russian authorities want the domestic defense establishment to recover and to start production of new generation weapons, the defense establishment must obligatorily have its own share in the arms trade.
As soon as the Sukhoi aircraft military and industrial establishment got this license at the end of the previous year, its representatives immediately managed to concluded a profitable deal in Warsaw. This Russia-Poland framework agreement provides for overhaul-period renewal of 60 fighter-bombers Su-22UMZK and Su-22M4.
In fact, Poland is short of money to adjust its military standards to the NATO standards by the determined period, 2006. What is more, the Polish government already declared that this year defense spending would be reduced by 3.5 billion dollars at least. Because of the budgetary deficit. Observers say, this slowdown may entail changes in the date of Poland’s incorporation into NATO. Nevertheless, Poland managed to find finance to renew the overhaul-period of Russian warplanes. As the Polish mass media report, the fleet of the latest modification of Su-22 planes will be in operation in the Polish army till 2014. Thus, it is not ruled out that Russian warplanes may soon be in operation in the NATO army.
As Agency of Political Information (APN) informs with reference to some sources in the Polish Ministry of National Defense, almost detective events preceded signing of the agreement. Illegal military freight going from Belarus to Poland was detained at the customs in the Russian city of Smolensk. The aircraft overhaul plant #558 from the Belarussian city of Baranovichi tried to send the freight two times. As is known, the plant illegally produces and exports spare parts for Su-22 and for engines AL-21. The Russian side resolutely protested against such deliveries. Poland understood that it would never get any spare parts from Belarus. Afterwards, Poland’s Ministry of Defense decided to give up illegal purchases of spare parts. Then representatives of Sukhoi arrived in Warsaw to negotiate methods of “civilized” cooperation with Polish clients. The negotiations were a success. As is reported, Sukhoi is going to use the same scheme for establishment of regular relations with other foreign clients. It is expected that cooperation will be established with Syria, Bulgaria, Peru, Angola, Libya and Vietnam, the countries where over 500 of Russian Su-22 planes are adopted.
Ahtyam Ahtyrov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://economics.pravda.ru/economics/2003/7/21/64/5894_weapons.html
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