By Invitation | General Director, United Aircraft Corporation, Yury B. Slyusar

We Are in Close Contact with Our Indian Colleagues and are Actively Discussing the Modernisation Programme for the Su-30MKI Fleet of the IAF


Yury B. Slyusar

Although UAC is not participating in DefExpo, there is nevertheless a significant interest in your company in India. In this regard, how is cooperation between the UAC and India going at the moment?
Our cooperation continues. India is one of Russia’s key partners in the field of military-technical cooperation, especially in aviation. Along with the work on programmes for licensed production, repair and modernisation of Sukhoi and MiG aircraft, UAC, together with our Indian partner, HAL, is also working on other projects. Indeed, for a number of reasons, we do not take part in the DefExpo exhibition this year, but I can assure you that we will not ignore the upcoming air show in Bangalore.


Has this cooperation been affected in any way by the recent restrictions imposed against Russia?
Indeed, we are facing new challenges. This applies to external and internal markets, product demand and its structure. This also applies to the technological landscape and partnerships. This also concerns the tasks of developing enterprises in our regions of presence, as points of industrial and technological growth.
The sanctions have greatly affected the Russian air transport industry. Withdrawal of Western aircraft manufacturers from our market opens up a window of opportunity for the supply of up to 1,000 new passenger aircraft of all classes to the Russian market by 2030—not only made by UAC. This is a great opportunity, but also a serious challenge for Russian aircraft manufacturers. In this context, while increasing production capabilities, it is important for us not to limit ourselves to the domestic market.
From the point of view of developing cooperation with India, the ‘Make in India’ is not only the framework to meet the requirements and rules of the Indian side, but also new opportunities for industrial partnerships, including production of products not only for the Indian market, but also for the Russian market and other countries. Today, the civil part is approximately 20 per cent of the volume of the Russian aircraft manufacturing business. The remaining 80 per cent are military and dual-use products. Here the impact of sanctions is almost imperceptible. As far as our combat and transport aviation programmes are concerned, they are progressing according to their respective schedules.
What is currently happening is giving the Russian aircraft industry an important window of opportunity. Despite all the difficulties in achieving the required level of technological independence, pressing schedules, technological and logistical challenges, the main opportunity that the current situation gives us is guaranteed, clearly articulated and state-supported demand in the domestic market for the long term.
At the same time, despite new challenges, UAC remains a reliable partner, both in the terms of supply to our domestic market and for export. All our contracts are executed on time and with proper quality, despite the obvious difficulties that we face. We maintain and continue to develop relationships with all our partners.


In these conditions, how do you change your work? Maybe implementing new efficiency solutions?
Of course, in order to increase the efficiency of our work—speed up decision-making, bring new products to the market, concentrate resources and design competencies—, we are carefully and thoughtfully integrating our manufacturing enterprises and design bureaus into a single company: UAC. We have recently adopted a new development strategy. It involves significant changes in manufacturing—the development and technical re-equipment of our enterprises. Considerable attention is paid to the development of next-generation military platforms, as well as hybrid and unmanned solutions.
I want to elaborate in detail UAC’s operational-tactical aviation division. This July, UAC merged two leading design bureaus, Sukhoi and MiG, as well as manufacturing plants in Lukhovitsy, Novosibirsk and Komsomolsk-on-Amur also became a part of UAC. This means that both MiG and Sukhoi are no longer subsidiaries owned by UAC, but are part of a corporation with single management, financial resources, production, and so on. From my point of view, this gives UAC, the design bureaus and the factories significant advantages. Now UAC produces Sukhoi and MiG aircraft. This means that both design bureaus and factories now have access to all the resources of the corporation, and they will have more opportunities through use of a common pool of resources.



Last year you unveiled a Checkmate Light Tactical Aircraft. How is this project progressing?
We pay great attention to the development of new technologies. In the Checkmate project, for example, we use modern supercomputer technologies, which can significantly reduce the time needed to build a prototype and ensure the start of flight tests as early as 2024. Now preparations for production of two prototypes are underway. We plan to build a total of four prototypes. Serial production of the fighter jet is scheduled to start in 2027.
During the time that has passed since the unveiling of the project, we obtained feedback from potential customers. In addition to additional requirements from them, work was carried out to optimize the cost and analyse a number of technical solutions, which made it possible to significantly increase competitiveness, commercial attractiveness, and reduce technical risks while creating the aircraft.


How do you see the future work on your projects in India? It is no secret that the vast majority of the Indian Air Force fleet are Russian-made aircraft.
For quite some time we have been discussing the modernisation programme for the Su-30MKI fleet of the Indian Air Force. This is a very important issue for us. This September, I had meetings with top decision-makers from the IAF, Indian MoD and other interested parties. UAC, Rosoboronexport and other project participants pay great attention to this project. Now, we can say that we are in close contact with our Indian colleagues and are actively discussing this programme.
We also see prospects in joint work on new projects. In particular, we have repeatedly declared our interest in participating in the tender for 114 multi-role fighter aircraft. Rosoboronexport presented all relevant materials to the Indian side. We are ready to meet all the requirements not only of the RFP, but also of the DAP-2020 rules. In fact, we believe that only the Russian side is fully capable and ready to provide ToT (transfer of technology) conditions not only within this track, but also in general for various projects in the field of aircraft construction. We have successful experience in implementing programmes from the MiG-21 to the Su-30MKI, and I am sure that ToT in relation to the tender for 114 fighters is not only possible, but will be successful. Russia is the only country that is ready to transfer documentation, solutions, know-how in relation to high-tech products—very few countries in the world are really ready for this. We already have certain agreements, and we have already started discussing the issue of localization with our Indian partner.


How do you evaluate the effectiveness of your aircraft in real combat conditions?
Any armed conflict is a subject of an in-depth analysis in order to determine further directions for the development of technology. For example, we did such work following the results of the operation in the Syrian Arab Republic. We are also doing it now.
Currently, it seems necessary to further increase the capabilities of aircraft in terms of use of long-range weapons, electronic warfare, reconnaissance, data processing and transmission, etc. Our designers have achieved significant success in these areas, but we cannot stop there. We must move forward. We need to provide not just parity, but we strive for the superiority of our products over the products of other companies.
As for combat effectiveness, it is more appropriate to ask our colleagues in the Russian ministry of defence. We see that Su-35S and Su-30SM (an upgraded Su-30MKI) aircraft are far superior in air combat, that Su-34 destroy important ground targets with high-precision weapons, and Su-25 once again demonstrate unique combat survivability, meaning that the decisions of our designers are correct.
The work of our aircraft has repeatedly been highly appreciated by the leaders of the ministry of defense and the State; a number of pilots performing combat missions have been awarded with the highest state awards.
In conclusion, I would like to congratulate our colleagues on the Indian Air Force Day. I am confident that our joint work will make the Indian Air Force stronger and will contribute to strengthening India’s sovereignty.



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