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Video - The military driven Russian aviation industry

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The Russian aviation industry in 2007 was largely concentrated on military aircraft, with 15% civil aircraft for 85% military. With this in mind the state United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) consortium, which incorporates all Russian aircraft manufacturers, set a goal to reverse this ratio by 2025 : that of building two-thirds of civilian aircraft to one third military aircraft. Global demand is more important for civilian aircraft than military, but it is clear that this goal is unlikely to be achieved.

Philippe Migault, Researcher - Institute of International and Strategic Relations (IRIS)

"Why can’t they reverse it ? You have two aircraft manufacturers who, until the 80’s, had 20% of the global market for civil aircraft: Tupolev, and Ilyushin. You decide to start rebuilding airliners in Russia. You entrust the task to who ? It was decided to give it to Sukhoi, which had always made fighter aircraft. So you don’t really choose the most experienced manufacturer. And then there are certification issues that arise. Making ‘planes to international standards, is a real profession, and the Russians have a need for technology transfer."

The success of the Superjet 100 still has to be proved. The regional jet that was to embody the revival of Russian civil aviation has recorded only thirty deliveries in three years, and the Irkut MC-21 is still in development, with its maiden flight is not expected before 2016.

On the other hand the military sector is booming. It must be said that Russia has the means. In 2010 it launched a re-armament programme of € 590 billion over ten years. Moscow envisages acquiring 600 new combat aircraft and 1,000 attack helicopters for its army. An ambition supported by several cutting edge projects.

Philippe Migault, Researcher - Institute of International and Strategic Relations (IRIS)

"What is clear about the military programmes, is that Russia is the only country in the world today, outside the United States, which has a 5th generation fighter, the Sukhoi T50. Then you have the training plane programme for the Yak-30, which is also capable of ground attack. Finally, there are the Mi-28 and Khamov 52 combat helicopters, which will probably be successfully exported in the coming years."

In having the world’s third largest military budget after the United States and China, Russia clearly displays its priorities; amongst which, civil aviation, for now, is not one.

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