Ukroboronprom, an umbrella organisation for the state-owned defence and aerospace companies in Ukraine, was among the exhibitors with the highest level of participation. At its large stand, which was shared by more than 50 member companies, the organisation displayed a broad range of products, including armoured combat vehicles, surface-to-surface rocket systems, attack helicopters and tank recovery vehicles.
Ukroboronprom Keen on Strengthening its Cooperation with Turkey
Ukroboronprom’s member companies have been cooperating with the Turkish defence and aerospace sector in many fields. We talked to Pavlo Bukin, Director General of Ukroboronprom, about the organisation’s approach to Turkey and the latest status in their cooperation.
MSI TDR: Two years ago we interviewed Sergiy Korsunsky, the then Ambassador of Ukraine to Turkey, who painted us a picture of the joint projects being conducted by the two countries in the defence and aerospace sector. First of all, we would like to ask you how this picture has evolved over these past two years. Could you share with us your thoughts?
Pavlo BUKIN: Relations between our countries in this field two years ago were based only on purchases and sales, but we are now engaged in joint production and development projects that continue in harmony with each other. There is a very high level of engineering education in Turkey, and likewise, we have very good engineering schools in Ukraine, and this leads me to believe that we can expand our existing areas of cooperation into other areas; ideally, developing products that are not yet available on the market.
Joint Armed UAV Projects with Baykar and ROKETSAN on Agenda
MSI TDR: Can you give us examples of such projects?
Pavlo BUKIN: For example, we have entered into a significant cooperation with ASELSAN for the modernisation of the electro-optical sighting devices and communication systems in the inventory of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. In addition, the integration of our Luch-made antitank guided missiles into ASELSAN’s weapon stations has been completed. In the field of aviation, we are in talks with Baykar for the joint development and joint production of medium- and heavy-weight armed unmanned aerial vehicles (armed UAVs). In recent months, a delegation from our Ministry of Defence paid a field visit to Turkey to witness the firing tests conducted on Baykar’s UAVs using ammunition developed by ROKETSAN specifically for UAVs.
MSI TDR: Why did Ukraine opt to work with Turkey to meet its UAV needs?
Pavlo BUKIN: The Ukrainian Ground Forces voiced a need for armed UAVs, for which it defined specific requirements. Our delegation was highly satisfied with the results of tests conducted on Baykar’s UAVs. One specific requirement of the Ukrainian Ground Forces was that the armed UAVs should be resistant to electronic jamming. Although there are many UAV manufacturing countries operating in the market, only a limited number of them are producing UAVs with this feature.
MSI TDR: What would ROKETSAN’s role be in such a potential armed UAV project?
Pavlo BUKIN: We are very interested in ROKETSAN’s capabilities in this area. The various smart micro-munition solutions they have developed for armed UAVs have been 100 percent successful in firing tests, and are optimised in every respect for armed UAVs. As we have no such product yet, we are considering using these types of munitions both for our future armed UAV projects and our existing UAVs. We may also consider manufacturing such products in Ukraine in collaboration with ROKETSAN.
New Engine Development for UAVs on Agenda
MSI TDR: In what way can Ukroboronprom contribute to this project?
Pavlo BUKIN: In this project, our responsibility will be to design the fuselage of the UAV and the related electro-optical systems. Of course Baykar already has its own ideas and concepts in fuselage design, but there is also intense cooperation between us. Our biggest contribution to the vehicle will, however, be in the field of engines. Ivchenko Progress, the member of Ukroboronprom, and privately owned Motor-Sich have been designing and manufacturing different types of engines for many years. Among these engines are turbofan, turboshaft and turboprop fan engines, as well as the turboprop engines used by UAVs. These companies are fully capable of developing and manufacturing the specific engine required for the UAV that we shall develop in cooperation. Such engines can provide the required performance in a cost-effective manner.
Ukroboronprom Stands by Turkey in the Field of Aviation Engines
MSI TDR: Turkey has had a need for aviation engines for many years. What can you tell us about these systems?
Pavlo BUKIN: Our relationship with Turkey has been a very close one, especially in terms of military cooperation over the last five years, and Turkey has always stood by us in our difficult times. We have extensive experience in the development of engines used aboard military air platforms, and we have manufactured many different types of engines that are now integrated into hundreds of aerial vehicles. These products have proven themselves repeatedly for many years, and we have also developed our capabilities in the maintenance and sustainment of engines. In addition to Ivchenko Progress and Motor-Sich, we have facilities specialised in repair and maintenance, such as Lutsk based Motor Plant and 410 Kiev Aircraft Repair Plant. In short, we are ready to help Turkey in the field of aviation engines.
ASELSAN and Luch Right on Target
MSI TDR: Let’s go back to the cooperation between ASELSAN and Luch in the field of guided antitank missiles. What is the status of this project?
Pavlo BUKIN: In this project, ASELSAN has supplied us with stabilised gun turrets and electro-optical sighting devices, while Luch has provided the SKIF antitank missile and the related guidance systems. We achieved a 100 percent success rate in the firing tests we conducted. Currently, we are manufacturing the SKIF missile both for the Ukrainian Ground Forces and for friendly and allied nations. The missile is currently undergoing modernisation, part of which will include its integration into ASELSAN’s turret. We are almost at the end of this project, but our cooperation with ASELSAN is planned to be long term. Given that ASELSAN offers a highly successful and self-proven product in this field, it is not rational for us to spend money and time developing a similar product. Other guided antitank missile solutions offered by Luch include STUGNA and CORSAR, which come with different capabilities, and these missiles can also be integrated into ASELSAN’s turret, however, the fact that the integration of each missile should be handled as a separate project must be kept in mind. Luch also has the capability to develop air defence missiles and antiship guided missiles.
MSI TDR: ANTONOV and ASELSAN signed a cooperation agreement during IDEF 2017. What is the current status of that agreement?
Pavlo BUKIN: We signed the related agreement for avionic systems as we want to replace the old, Russian systems we have in hand, however we cannot buy the new systems from Russia. The engineers of the two companies are in mutual talks and are working together to find solutions to technical details. Our engineers have not yet come to an agreement on the manufacture of the precise system we need, but talks are continuing. There are no political hurdles in the way of this agreement – only technical issues that need to be resolved. We are already producing our own avionics, and the systems we have in hand need to be compatible with ASELSAN’s systems. Another alternative is to replace all of the old systems with new ones, which may also be possible. ASELSAN has proven that it is capable of manufacturing whatever is required, and ANTONOV is motivated to make the necessary modifications to its aircraft.
MSI TDR: During IDEF 2017, you signed an agreement with Turkey regarding the enhancement of cooperation in the defence sectors of the two countries. What can you tell us about this agreement?
Pavlo BUKIN: This agreement has a number of different goals, which include the AN-188 military transport aircraft that is planned to be developed jointly by ANTONOV and Turkish Aerospace Industries (Turkish Aerospace). Although our vision and Turkish Aerospace’s vision of this project are different, we are both aware that we can bring exceptional added value to our respective countries through this project, and this is why our negotiations are continuing.
MSI TDR: Can you also tell us about the contract signed between ANTONOV, HAVELSAN and the Saudi Taqnia company during the same exhibition?
Pavlo BUKIN: I can say that the situation in this project is similar. When both parties are highly competent technically, it may take some time to achieve 100 percent consensus. That said, we are continuing our talks, because we foresee the commercial efficiency of this project being very high. Furthermore, it is likely that in addition to the Saudi company, European companies may also be involved in the project.
On behalf of our readers, we would like to thank Pavlo Bukin, Director General of Ukroboronprom, for taking the time to answer our questions and for providing us with such valuable information.