Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR 02 2015 Contents 64 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter FEB 2015
for India’s intake of Russian weapons is $57 billion.
Last year Rosoboronexport’s deliveries amounted to
over $3.6 billion. Additionally, Russian companies with
permission to perform upgrades on in-service hardware
and supply spares, earned some hundreds of millions
of dollars. Co-developed programs such as the FGFA,
MTA, BrahMos all help secure the Indian market for the
REBALANCING TO ... CHINA
Whereas the Obama administration’s “rebalancing to
Asia” is meant to counter the rapidly growing military
power of China, Moscow’s ambitions in the same
geographic area are exactly the opposite. What else
could Obama expect after having imposed his economic
sanctions on Russia?
Since the nomination of Xi Jinping as the new
Chinese Communist Party leader in late 2012, he had
several meetings with the Russian president, and even
drank vodka to his health when the two got together
on the occasion of Putin’s birthday (October 7, 2013).
Compared to the previous leader Hu Jintao, Xi Jinping is
far more open to “Russian solutions". Never in the past
fifty years has an anti-US alliance of China and Russia
looked so probable.
Defense minister Sergei Shoigu made another visit
to Beijing in November (believed to be somehow
connected to the sale of 24 Sukhoi Su-35S multirole
fighters that Russia and China are negotiating), and
spoke happily about the strengthening ties between his
armed forces and the People’s Liberation Army. A long-
standing customer, the PLA runs a large fleet of Sukhoi
Su-27/30 fighters (over 300 originals and local copies),
Il-76 strategic airlifters (since these are no longer
in production, Russia overhauls aircraft taken from
secondary market before delivery) and long-range air-to-
surface missiles (S-300PMU-2 and earlier versions
are in service, S-400 delivery pending), Mi-17 series
helicopters (shipments continue from the plant in Ulan-
Ude, representing a new version with a glass cockpit).
The supply of power plants to locally designed and
produced aircraft is big business for Russian industry.
The AL-31FN series 3 are being delivered for use in the
improved Chengdu J-10 serial fighters. AL-31Fs are also
in demand as the large PLAAF Su-27/30 fleet requires
these motors as replacements to worn out examples.
The D-30KP series turbofans continue to be supplied
for the Il-76 airlifters and evolved Tu-16 (H-6) bombers.
The RD-93 powers the FC-1 (JF-17) exportable light
fighter and the FC-31 next-gen medium sized fighter.
Russian engines are also present on prototypes of the
J-20 fighter and Y-20 next-generation air lifter (in flight
tests since January 2013).
Moving from supply to co-development is a new
moment in the longstanding Sino-Russian relationship.
There are a couple of projects that have been agreed
upon at the political level but are yet to start on the
industrial one: the Advanced Heavy Helicopter (AHH)
and The Future Widebody Airplane (Russian acronym
The AHH is being touted by Russian Helicopters
and Avicopter to be “a Chinese product in the future”.
Talks on the project began in 2008, with the Russian
company trying to comply with the local regulations
in place for cooperative projects with foreign OEMs
and modelled on existing partnerships the Chinese
have with Airbus Helicopters and AgustaWestland.
According to Russian Helicopters’ general manager
Alexander Mikheyev, the AHH is “a very promising
project that can give the Mil design house some work
and the ability to develop high technologies. The future
product will use the technologies of the Mi-26, but it
is going to be a product in a class of its own”. Little is
known about AHH technically except that the helicopter
shall have a 15-ton payload capability, and is likely to
have new Aviadvigatel-designed turbo shaft motors
using a modified core of the PD-14 next-gen turbofan.
Another joint project, ShFS, is described as a
300-seat next-gen wide body jetliner. It is a next step
in the evolution of the Ilyushin Il-86 and Il-96 wide body
quads. No decision on the power plant has been made
yet. Aviadvigatel is offering a scale-up version of the
14-tonne PD-14 turbofan now undergoing bench tests
and which is destined for the Irkut MC-21 narrow body
In addition to the AHH and ShFS, the Kremlin is trying
to lure the Chinese into the project to rework Il-114
regional turboprops. Additionally, there is a likelihood
that the sides may find it suitable to harmonize the
MC-21 and the C919 designs of next-generation
narrow body jetliners that Irkut and COMAC have been
There is one more type that is sometimes discussed
in relation to China: the Beriev-200 amphibian aircraft.
Sometime ago, Russia received requests for this aircraft
to be used as firefighter, with a suggestion of assembly
under license in the Chinese territory if an order is
placed. Other roles for the Be-200 would be search-
and-rescue, anti-submarine warfare and assistance to
friendly submarines at sea. There are fears that access
to Be-200 documentation and technologies may tempt
the Chinese to use them for curing teething problems
with similar types of their own.
Following the dismantling of the type’s assembly
line at Ikrut’s IAZ factory in Irkutsk and its move
to TAVIA in Taganrog, production is being resumed.
Today, six IAZ-assembled Be-200s are in service with
Russia’s ministry for emergencies, and six are under
construction. In January the Russian MoD confirmed
plans to take delivery of its first aircraft and launch the
type’s operations off the Pacific coast. “In the frame
of the State Defense Order 2015, Be-200 multirole
amphibian aircraft are to come to one of the air bases
in the Primorsk region”, the Eastern military district
statement reads. The first aircraft on the MoD order
have rather simple configuration resembling that of the
MChS aircraft. They will be used for crew type-training,
search-and-rescue, and the supply of remote garrisons
such as those on the Kuril island chain - four of which
Japan wants to get aback.
Russia claims control over a quarter of the global
export market for defense equipment. Main customers
are India, Venezuela, Algeria, China and Vietnam. Last
Indonesian Air Force ground crew perform maintenance
on their Sukhoi Su30 Flanker aircraft. Credit: CoA
29/01/15 7:28 PM
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