Thursday, 16 June 2016
Ukraine has launched an aggressive effort to manage multiple overloaded armaments and weaponry that New Delhi acquired during the Soviet era and which have become a liability for the Indian defense forces.
Armed with the salutations of a government-level delegation (to negate the strains in the relationship between the two countries since Ukraine sold T-80 U tanks to Pakistan in the early 1990s) and with over a dozen defense companies showcasing new programs at Defexpo, Ukraine is attempting to embrace India and break the Russian monopoly on the Soviet-era platforms.
Perto Fedoruk, chief adviser to Ukraine’s largest defense industry consortium, Ukroboronprom, said: “We are here now [in] India for the long term to manage Soviet-era headaches, which India cannot manage alone.”
“For nearly a decade Russia has forcefully blocked our entry," Fedoruk said. "We have offered multiple solutions to give new life to Soviet-era weaponry [with Indian defense forces], as we are the original equipment manufacturer.”
According to a Ukrainian diplomat, “India cannot resolve the headaches of overloaded Soviet-era platforms without Ukraine."
Nikolay Gordienko, head of Ukroboronprom naval projects, said: “India has now permitted us to participate in defense programs independently, and we are offering a new solution to manage and refit the Soviet-era aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov [renamed as INS Vikramaditya], which is 50 percent cheaper than the Russian offer."
The Indian Navy is evaluating a proposal by Ukraine for overhaul and maintenance of gas turbines used in Delhi-class warships and the carrier Admiral Gorshkov.
The Ukroboronprom deputy director general of strategy, Artur Kheruvymov, said India plans to organize a “joint military technical commission for providing service support for Soviet-era weaponry."
"In addition, the two countries are also planning to form joint ventures in India for upgradation and overhaul and manufacture of spares for Soviet-built air defense systems, including the Kvadrat, OSA-AKM Strela-1, Tunguska, Shilka, portable IGLA and Strela-2 systems," Kheruvymov said.
Ukraine is doing more than $100 million in annual defense business with India, and aims to increase it to $500 million in the next three years, he said.
Over 700 defense contracts related to the delivery of spares, repair and upgrade valued at over $2 billion were signed and completed in the last 10 years.
“We have now managed to make a breakthrough,” according to the Ukrainian diplomat, who added: “India has now decided not to buy [the] electronic support measure system used to detect and track stealth aircraft and Vympel R-27 medium-range air-to-air missiles from us instead of from Russia.”
Ukraine has also offered to collaborate with India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to jointly develop multiple rocket launcher systems with a range of 100 kilometers — similar to Russian Grad systems.
“In addition, we will also be developing a variety of new electronic warfare systems with DRDO and a partnership has been sealed recently,” Fedoruk said.
Ukroboronprom is also sealing a partnership with state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) to indigenize Russian T-90 main battle tanks and set up a facility to manufacture spares in India.
Ukraine has also entered into a partnership with state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics for supply of crucial spares for Russian Sukhoi aircraft.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is aiming to acquire 30 new vessels for the country’s Navy by 2020, and to upgrade its training facilities under a program worth 500 million hryvnia (US $20 million), the ministry said.
The two programs are related to Ukraine’s ongoing military efforts in the country’s eastern part, where the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been combating Russia-backed insurgents.
Currently, the Ukrainian Navy "is actively involved in the anti-terrorist operation in the provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk, prepared to counter a seaborne armed aggression," the ministry said in a statement.
The planned acquisitions are expected to enable a "radical modernisation" of the Ukrainian Navy's combat capabilities, the statement said.
Most recently, the Defense Ministry signed a contract with the state-run Leninska Kuznya shipyard under which the Kiev-based shipbuilder will supply two landing craft to the Ukrainian Navy. Should the latest deal be carried out as planned, the Defense Ministry could decide to award further shipbuilding contracts to Leninska Kuznya. Some deals could also be awarded to the shipbuilding division of Ukraine's leading defense group Ukroboronprom.
In addition to developing the capabilities of the Ukrainian Navy, the ministry also wants to enhance the training capacity of the country’s military. Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak said that Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko considers improving the country’s military training infrastructure "a top priority." As a result, the country’s International Peacekeeping and Security Centre (IPSC) in Starychi, in Ukraine's western part, and its training units will be upgraded until the end of 2020, according to the minister.