Russia Eyes Global Arms Market, Ka-32A11M Firefighting Helicopter and Russia’s IL-76MD-90A(E) Debuts in UAE  Dubai Air Show 2023

Russia's Arms Trade Resilience - Predicts Surge in Industrial Partnerships for Global Arms Market.

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Girish Linganna
Girish Linganna
Girish Linganna is a Defence & Aerospace analyst and is the Director of ADD Engineering Components (India) Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany with manufacturing units in Russia. He is Consulting Editor Industry and Defense at Frontier India.

Russia’s Rosoboronexport has taken part in the Dubai Air Show 2023 with hundreds of weapons, dual-use products, and civilian technology for the first time since the start of the war between Russia and Ukraine. At the show in Dubai, Russian companies showed off their new heavy transport plane, the IL-76MD-90A(E), their tried-and-true battle helicopter, the Ka-52, and their Mi-171A3 transport helicopter. Rosoboronexport feels that more demand for its goods will exist worldwide after the war between Russia and Ukraine ends.

Russian display shows it is committed to further strengthening its current collaboration in the defence domain. During the Dubai exhibition, prospective purchasers were presented with the IL-76MD-90A(E), a heavy transport aircraft. Since the mid-1990s, according to Vladimir Artakov of the Russian defence conglomerate Rostec, such heavyweight Russian exhibits have not been displayed at an international exhibition. The newly developed transport aircraft substantially modernises the proven and well-known IL-76MD. Reportedly, over 70% of the aircraft’s systems have been enhanced. This has resulted in an increased effective load of sixty tonnes, an extended range, decreased fuel consumption, and enhanced flight safety.

Vladimir Artakov said he is certain this exhibition will garner interest for reasons other than its magnitude. According to him, IL-76 aircraft are extremely well-liked, versatile, and effectively employed for many missions. They can convey military personnel to any location worldwide, facilitate cargo transportation for diverse domestic and international objectives, and put out flames caused by natural and human factors. Installing medical modules or firefighting equipment, among other supplementary features, on the aircraft requires minimal effort and can be executed conveniently at the airport.

Additionally, several Russian helicopters were present at the Dubai show. Moscow made extensive use of the Ka-52 combat helicopter in its fleet during the Ukrainian-Russian War. Particularly when it comes to cutting-edge Western technology, its direct engagement in the conflict is greatly valued by international clients. One example of civilian technology is the transport Mi-171A3, specifically engineered to operate offshore drilling platforms and facilitate maritime transportation. It can accommodate twenty-four passengers. Additionally, the external suspension of the helicopter can accommodate up to five tonnes of cargo. The safety flight standards for water travel established by the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers are complied with by the Mi-171A3.

The Russians unveiled the modernised Ka-32A11M, equipped with firefighting capabilities, for the first time in the United Arab Emirates. It is the most recent iteration of the Ka-32A11BC firefighting helicopter. Around 180 helicopters of this variety are in operation in over twenty countries. In less than one minute, the Ka-32A11M reservoir can be refilled with forty tonnes of water in a minute and up to 400 litres of foam agent, which the SP-32 firefighting system uses. The helicopter’s capability to operate a water cannon is enhanced, enabling it to suppress fires in dense smoke environments and on the upper levels of structures. This holds specific significance for urban areas replete with skyscrapers, most of which are situated in the Middle East.

Artakov additionally mentioned specific products that experienced heightened demand due to their use in combat. The weapon above systems comprises guided air-to-ground missiles, T-90 tanks, thermobaric rocket launchers TOS-1A, self-propelled howitzers Msta-S, heavy rocket launchers Tornado-G and Tornado-S, Su-35 fighter aircraft, Ka-52 attack helicopters, Kub-E suicide drones, and TOS-1A.

As per the Rostec representative, Russia has established a commendable standing as a dependable provider of military equipment. Reportedly, their reduced prices are not the only factor attracting foreign customers compared to Western equipment. Supposedly, their competitiveness results from their superior quality, relative simplicity of operation, and potential for modernisation. Internationally, every piece of military equipment used in combat operations enjoys a substantial margin of advantage. In the end, exhibition statistics, trader counts, and the battlefield reflect its capabilities. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has evolved into a diagnostic test that exposes the true state and calibre of military technology developed by both Russia and the West.

Additionally, the Russians are endeavouring to secure contracts for the provision of military equipment that has been deployed in combat in Ukraine and that they intend to export in significant quantities once the conflict concludes. However, they are aware that industrial partnerships and localised production on the buyer’s territory are crucial for the continued existence of the arms trade.

The recent sanctions and Western behaviour merely serve to reinforce this trend. Vladimir Artakov forecasts that by 2030, the number of industrial partnership ventures will have doubled, accounting for forty per cent of the global arms market. Cooperation in industry and cooperative research and development are advantageous for both parties. They facilitate the expansion of the importer’s manufacturing capacity while simultaneously relieving exporters of labour. This enables exporters to shift their attention towards manufacturing new models or, as in Russia, concentrate on supplying the government. Artakov asserts that military-technical collaboration with foreign corporations has additionally resulted in the creation of exceptionally effective novel models that have received approval from the Russian Ministry of Defence for deployment within the armed forces.


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