Tag Archives: Sukhoy

World-Class Competitors

Defense News has posted its annual list of the world’s top 100 defense companies for 2012.

The same seven Russian firms appear on the list.  But against the backdrop of a declining international defense market, the performance of Russian companies last year is interesting.

They did fairly well, except for airplane makers.

Almaz-Antey’s reported defense revenue rebounded strongly in 2012 – by 62 percent — to make it 14 overall.  It moved up from 21 last year.

Helicopters of Russia’s revenue jumped 32 percent to put it at 24.  It was 44 last year.

Sukhoy’s revenue was down 8 percent.  But down less than others.  With the market declining,  it came in 43rd, up from 52nd last year.

United Engine-building’s revenue increased nearly 50 percent to make it number 49, up from 55.

Irkut’s revenue and position declined, more than 18 percent to make it 62 versus 53 a year ago.

RTI Sistemy reported a 12 percent gain to be 80th instead of 100th last year.

RSK MiG was down 17 percent and came in at 93rd.

Here are the posts on 2011 and 2010.

Defense News

Some Russian defense news from August 6, 7, and 8, 2012 . . .

Sukhorukov’s Press Conference (photo: Mil.ru)

Mil.ru provided a wrap on the First Deputy Defense Minister’s press-conference on GPV-2020.

Sukhorukov “particularly turned attention” to media reports that the program’s funding will be cut.  He told journalists such a step isn’t foreseen, and the government is talking only about “optimizing” the budget load between years by using good old state-guaranteed credits for the OPK.

Sukhorukov claims 95 percent of GOZ-2012 has been contracted, and 82 percent of funds disbursed.

Arms-expo.ru also covered this story.  It emphasized Sukhorukov’s statement that the rate of defective arms delivered by producers isn’t declining.

According to RIAN, Sukhorukov said Russia won’t buy more Israeli UAVs beyond its current contract.  He reiterated the Defense Ministry believes the BMD-4M doesn’t meet its requirements, and won’t buy it.

Sukhoy reports it’s now testing the new Tikhomirov phased array radar on PAK FA, T-50-3 to be exact.  See RIAN’s story.

Sukhoy also announced that its Su-35S is in “combat employment” testing within the process of state acceptance testing at GLITs.  The company says it meets all established requirements, and has flown more than 650 times.

New Navy CINC, Vice-Admiral Chirkov made an interesting visit to the State Missile Center named for Academic V. P. Makeyev on Monday.  The Makeyev design bureau is home, of course, to liquid-fueled SLBM development.  Could not find the last time this happened.  Might be prior to 2007.

Main Military Prosecutor Sergey Fridinskiy told the GenProk collegium yesterday that abuse or dedovshchina in the ranks is down a third this year.  But, according to ITAR-TASS, Fridinskiy noted that general crimes exceed purely military offenses by a factor of two.  Specifically, he said murders are up by half, bribery has almost doubled, and drug offenses have increased 27 percent.

Fridinskiy also said nearly 3,000 GOZ corruption cases and losses worth 400 million rubles were investigated in the first half of this year.  He said, for example, Dagdizel received 3 billion rubles in defense orders, but hasn’t sent a single product to the military, and bought farm equipment and building materials with the money.  He cited losses in purchasing apartments for military men at inflated prices as well as the problem of unfinished housing projects.

Izvestiya claims a large number of young pilots are leaving the Air Forces because the lion’s share of increased flight hours and promised higher pay are going to their commanders and older officers.  Could this be a continuation of Igor Sulim’s travails at Lipetsk?  The paper also reports a number of cleaning companies say the Defense Ministry owes them 5 billion rubles for housekeeping work outsourced over the last year.

Update on World-Class Competitors

By way of follow-up on a previous post, Defense News’ list of the top 100 defense industrial producers for 2011 is out.  No change in Russian companies except for some changes of position on the list.

Sukhoy, Helicopters of Russia, and RTI moved up the list with increased revenue over 2010.  Almaz-Antey, Irkut, and United Engine-building slipped down.  RSK MiG hasn’t reported 2011 data.

Here’s last year’s post.

PAK FA Update

PAK FA

Sukhoy announced that its third PAK FA prototype conducted its first test flight today.  Operating from KnAAPO’s factory runway, the aircraft flew for more than an hour.

To run back a few milestones, the first PAK FA flew on January 29, 2010.  A second prototype joined it in March of this year.  PAK FA’s first public flight was August 17 at MAKS-2011.  And Sukhoy says the PAK FA has completed more than 100 test flights to date.  The hundredth flight apparently occurred early this month or in late October.

On November 11, ARMS-TASS reported that the third prototype will test the onboard phased array radar (AFAR)  system designed by the Tikhomirov NII of Instrument-building (NIIP).  Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye published the same news, citing a Sukhoy spokesman.

Air Forces Prospects

With MAKS-2011 underway, this is something of a moving target.  Before getting to the main topic, a little news from Zhukovskiy . . . some of today’s headlines. 

OAK President Mikhail Pogosyan told the press two more T-50 prototypes will join the development and testing program this year.  He expects more than 100 military transport aircraft to be bought under GPV 2011-2020.  Il-112, Il-476, and Il-76MD will come first, then ten An-124 in 2014-2015, and later a larger number of An-70s.  Pogosyan said, starting from 2011, OAK will deliver more than 20 combat aircraft each year.

VVS CINC, General-Colonel Zelin told the media he foresees five squadrons of Su-34 (possibly as many as 120 aircraft).  The VVS will have six by the end of 2011 and will get 12 next year under the current contract for 32 aircraft.

For Air Forces Day, RIA Novosti had military commentator Konstantin Bogdanov describe how he sees things developing for this armed service.  How he puts the Air Forces’ future picture together is worth a look.

Bogdanov says he sees, for the first time since the Soviet collapse, movement, a turnaround in procurement financing, and real deliveries of aircraft in 2011. 

Interestingly, he begins with the Su-35S.  Forty-eight of these “transitional” 4++ generation fighters will be procured, but there could be more if there is any delay in the 5th generation T-50.  Bogdanov suggests, even without a  delay, the pragmatic Defense Ministry leadership could decide to blend 4th and 5th generation technology and equipment in one aircraft.

Bogdanov maintains one Su-34 flew missions in the 5-day war with Georgia [has anyone seen this elsewhere?], then got its serial production go-ahead, and contract for 32 aircraft in fall 2008.  Modernizing the aged Su-24 is a backup plan for the Su-34.  Bogdanov claims VVS CINC Zelin has hinted that ALCM-armed Su-34s could go to LRA.

Some old Su-27s have been updated to Su-27SM, and even a few new Su-27SM3 — unsold to China — have been obtained.

RSK MiG’s future, according to Bogdanov, looks less certain.  Russia had to buy the defective Algerian MiG-29SMTs.  It’s unclear if the Defense Ministry will have any requirement for the MiG-35.  And this leaves MiG with the possibility of providing MiG-29Ks to replace the Navy’s Su-33 fighters on the Kuznetsov’s deck.

Bogdanov then mentions how Irkut has parleyed its export success into more domestic sales.  He says the firm has redeveloped its Indian Su-30MKI into the Su-30SM, and it may sell as many as 40 to the Defense Ministry.  Twelve might go to replace Naval Aviation’s Su-24s at Gvardeyskoye in the Black Sea Fleet [apparently these aircraft weren’t swept up by the VVS earlier this year].  Similarly, says Bogdanov, KnAAPO last fall sold the VVS four Su-30M2s, domestic versions of its Su-30MK2 export.

Turning to rotary-wing aircraft, Bogdanov sees stable order books for Russian helicopter makers.  The order books are balanced in terms of military and civilian, and internal and external buyers, and all sales sectors are growing.

He says by 2010 the military’s contract for Mi-28N helicopters reached 100 units and serial production of its main competitor, the Ka-52, continued.  Mi-8s have been bought by the dozens.  And the hangars and flight decks of Mistral helicopter carriers will have to be filled in the future.

Bogdanov concludes more than 100 helicopters of all types may be procured before the end of 2011.  He repeats the familiar goal of 1,000 new helicopters by 2020, and says the near-term future for this sector looks good.

Bogdanov sees more clouds in military transport development and production.  Il-476 production at Ulyanovsk still needs to stand up, and Zelin’s already announced that a new A-100 AWACS will be based on it.  Restarting An-124 production and buying the An-70 from Ukraine are possibilities with details to be worked out.

Focused on platforms, Bogdanov gives short shrift to organizational and human aspects of VVS development.  He notes the Air Forces are completing the change from mission-oriented air armies and divisions to territorial composite or mixed formations (air bases), and he briefly mentions scandals over the handling of “order 400” premium pay.  But he concludes:

“In coming years we’ll see more than a few painful symptoms in the VVS, both strictly aviation-related and internal, and those connected to the general background of difficult transformations of the country’s armed forces.  Let there be pains, but let them be growing pains.”

Some World-Class Competitors

Despite problems with its state defense order and defense-industrial complex, Russia clearly has world-class defense producers.  This is apparent not just from their arms exports, but it’s also evident in their defense-related revenue.

Eight Russian companies just made the Defense News list of the Top 100 defense corporations worldwide.  They are Almaz-Antey, Helicopters of Russia, Sukhoy, Irkut, United Engine-building, Tactical Missiles, KB Instrument-building, and RTI Sistemy.

With 2010 defense revenue of nearly $4 billion, Almaz-Antey has appeared in the list since 2005 (Antey appeared alone prior to that).  Yet its revenue’s only about half that of Thales, a fourth of EADS, perhaps reflecting that those companies are more diversified in their defense and non-defense business. 

Helicopters of Russia vaulted into the middle of the Top 100 list with 2010 defense revenue of nearly $2 billion (a gain of 134.1% over 2009).  Consolidation of its helo design and manufacturing capabilities seems to have put Russia on the map (or at least on the Top 100).  Still, Helicopters of Russia has about half the defense revenue of Textron, and half as much diversification in its business.  The difference is more pronounced when comparing to United Technologies.

Sukhoy and Irkut need no introduction, but it’s a little surprising that their defense revenue was lower than Helicopters of Russia.

United Engine-building (ODK) is an interesting case.  Not huge defense revenue, but more diversified than other Russian corporations in the Top 100.

A number of Russian companies have fallen out of the Top 100 over the years.  They include submarine and shipbuilders Sevmash, Admiralty Wharves, and Northern Wharf (the United Shipbuilding Corporation — OSK — hasn’t appeared in their place), RSK MiG, Uralvagonzavod, and Aerospace Equipment.  It’s hard to say why they’ve fallen off; it could be their financial reporting — still sketchy at times — has made it hard to evaluate their revenue claims. 

Still, eight Russian companies in the Top 100 is a long way from 1999 when only Rosvooruzheniye (remember it?) made the list.

The Russian firms in the Top 100 are strong weapons and military equipment exporters, but the lesson for them from abroad seems to be that greater diversification and more civilian business makes a defense company more profitable.

Su-35S to Start State Testing

In their excitement about new armaments, many observers have a hard time keeping book on the latest weapons, forcing yours truly to follow a few important systems like the Su-35S.  Some even say the Su-35S is already in the inventory, but a close look at press reporting shows otherwise.

The media reported the first series production Su-35S flew at KnAAPO in Komsomolsk-na-Amure yesterday.  After these factory trials, this aircraft will be delivered to the Defense Ministry.

Sukhoy has successfully completed preliminary testing on the Su-35S prototype.  Preliminary testing confirmed that its on-board systems meet technical requirements, checked its reliability and controllability, its engines, and navigation system.

According to ITAR-TASS, a Sukhoy spokesman said:

“The Su-35S has been presented for state joint testing [ГСИ or GSI].  The first step in the framework of the fighter’s state joint testing will be receipt of the preliminary finding of the customer – Russia’s Air Forces on the aircraft’s correspondence to main requirements with the aim of providing it to Air Forces’ operational units.”

Now recall that late last August Sukhoy said the Su-35S was completing preliminary testing and would start state testing in the fall.  Fall has become the following spring, and Sukhoy announces again that the Su-35S is ready to start GSI.

The Russians advertise the Su-35S as a 4++ generation fighter, using fifth generation technologies to give it an advantage over similar aircraft.

The Defense Ministry gave Sukhoy a contract to deliver 48 Su-35S by 2015, but Voyenno-promyshlennyy kuryer, among others, says the military department will probably buy 48 more in 2015-2020.  VPK goes further:

“According to some assessments, the Russian Air Forces need 150-200 Su-35S.  The Defense Ministry now intends to buy 60 fifth generation T-50 fighters in all.”

So VPK suggests some think the Su-35S should be a primary fighter rather than just a gap filler for PAK FA.