There was a time when the aircraft industry acted as a powerful unifying factor for Ukraine and Russia. The An-70 project was generally called the calling card of bilateral relations, and similar cooperation schemes were preserved unless in the space sphere. But by the spring of 2013, another round of tension in relations between the two states had matured, and the aircraft industry had once again become hostage to general political disorder. The Russian side, first through the mouth of the ambassador to Ukraine, Mikhail Zurabov, and then with a series of unambiguous actions, announced the next withdrawal from the project to create and manufacture the An-70 military transport aircraft. And not only. Practically all joint plans in the field of aircraft construction cracked at the seams, from An-140 to a megaproject to resume production of the modernized An-124 Ruslan aircraft.
What is the true reason for such blatant sabotage and betrayal of ideas that aircraft builders have been proud of for several decades? Or, in Russia, they suddenly saw the light, realizing the imperfection of joint projects with Ukraine, in order to return to the long-forgotten national developments? It turned out that aircraft manufacturing was simply sacrificed to the Kremlin’s political ambitions.
From big politics to technological blows
For two decades of independent living after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Kremlin has developed many interesting mechanisms for political pressure on the territory, considering them an unshakable zone of its interests. When it comes to Ukraine, attacks on high-tech industries and projects containing critical technologies are often used for political blackmail. But if, for example, the refusal in 1996 to supply components for Ukrainian tanksdestined for Pakistan could well be explained by the competition of tank-building schools and Russia's intention to conclude a similar contract with India, the aircraft-building demarches are comparable to hara-kiri for their own industry. However, aviation industry managers are inexorable and ready to apply a strangulation to their aircraft manufacturers, when the general paradigm is not working according to their plan.
And the plan was simple: create a vassal, fully controlled territory. The Russian language is the state, the domination of the church of the Moscow Patriarchate, the drawing of Ukraine into economic and military-political organizations. No doubt, Moscow has succeeded a lot. But the outcome of the Ukraine-EU summit in February, as well as Kiev’s persistent attempts to move away from critical dependence on Russia in the energy sector, turned out to be far from the result that the Kremlin expected. Drawing Ukraine into the Customs Union is actually frozen. Interest in the military-political bloc - the CSTO - is not shown. Only a palliative was achieved.
And here again in the course went aircraft. Not the only victim, of course, but in the package with political and other economic arguments. A concomitant reason should be sought in the intractability of Ukrainians - Moscow has already spent a lot of time and effort on gaining control over the Kiev Antonov Design Bureau (the two Russian production plants are of little interest if there is a whole horde of their own). It has long been no secret to anyone: throughout the entire post-Soviet territory, only two design bureaus are preserved throughout the entire chain of development and production of aircraft: Antonov and Sukhoi. But the Sukhoi design bureau seriously can only deal with military vehicles (those who oversaw the project to create the Sukhoi Superjet-100 passenger aircraft, inevitably recognize this). While the traditional profile of Antonov Design Bureau - military transport and regional passenger aircraft. Therefore, pressure on the industry has a double benefit: both as a political slap to the state, and as a bridle for an unforgiving partner. In fact, the Ukrainian aviation industry has traditionally made big bets on the Russian market. But, by chopping down their orders and prospects, Russia will forever lose the ability to remain among the producers of competitive military transport and regional passenger aircraft.
The demarche trick, by the way, has been worked out for a long time. So, in 2006, Russia has already officially left the An-70 project. Formally, the military, led by then-Commander of the Air Force of the Russian Federation, General Vladimir Mikhailov, spoke of a number of discrepancies in tactical and technical characteristics. In fact, the refusal was part of Ukraine’s “punishment” for its Euro-Atlantic integration and a desire to become a member of NATO. It is curious that as soon as the danger of Ukraine’s movement to NATO passed, in 2009 the Russian side not only returned to the project, but also recognized that the An-70 remains the best military transport aircraft in the world. Statements by General Mikhailov (the author pays particular attention to a specific general, probably a hostage situation, because a whole range of Russian military - from ex-commander-in-chief of the Russian Air Force, army generals Anatoly Kornukov and Peter Deinekin to the deputy defense ministers of the Russian Armed Forces army generals Anatoly Sitnova and Aleksey Moskovsky, the An-70 project was unequivocally supported, despite the politicians) were either declared untenable or obsolete. True, some specific technical notes by the developers have been eliminated. As a result, a document appeared in 2012, removing all past contradictions and opening the way to mass production. Of course, by the time Russia returned to the project, the main competitor to the An-70, the A400M European aircraft had a whole bunch of problems, and the project itself was on the verge of collapse. But now, according to experts in the aircraft industry, Russia's demarches have already “stolen” from An-70 for seven years. Just those years that would allow him to stay ahead in the A400M market. It would not be superfluous to emphasize that this is not about a purely Ukrainian aircraft, but about a Ukrainian-Russian aircraft, whose triumph in the market could be a real victory for the two states.
Features of the 2013 Ice Age
If in 2006, An-70 was chosen for the slaughter, and the rest of the projects continued quiet, mutually beneficial interaction between the aircraft manufacturers of the two states, now it is a collapse along the whole front. It is possible that in this fact one should look for the roots of another intrigue with an independent plot, developing, it is possible, even outside the control of the Kremlin. To understand the mechanics of what is happening, we will do a quick overview of the situation.
At one time, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation ordered the aviation industry 10 An-140 aircraft in the military version (the Antonov State Enterprise provides design support and delivery of car kits). Moreover, unofficially, the military department announced an increase in this order to 62 aircraft. It also expressed its readiness to take control of the start of serial production of the upgraded heavy transport An-124 Ruslan (to start an expensive project). Another mutually beneficial issue was actually resolved with the leadership of the Russian military department - the acquisition of the second instance of the world's largest aircraft, the An-225 Mriya. This corresponded to the aircraft building ambitions of the Russian Federation and was beneficial for Ukraine to advance for the money An-70 and his "younger brother" - the new An-178 military transport aircraft with a carrying capacity of 15-18 tons, with excellent prospects, experts say. Finally, in 2012, the most important issue was resolved - the start of mass production of the An-70. For this, the Russian side decided on the "production site" - Kazan aviation Production Association named after Gorbunov. Note that in all these projects, the participation of the Russian aviation industry was provided for the maximum possible, in all cases, including the production of An-148/158 aircraft, the loading of serial enterprises of the Russian Federation was assumed. Say, 70 billion rubles were allocated only for the preparation of the An-12 production. (I wonder where they will go if the abandonment of the An-70 does happen?).
But politics was involved in the matter ... According to M. Zurabov, at first the Russian Defense Ministry proposed to purchase 70 units. An-70, then - 60 machines, the penultimate time - 16. Now - zero. Because Russia began to produce its military transport aircraft IL-476. It can be seen that someone very persistently painted Russian President Vladimir Putin with a bright prospect Il-476, since he enthusiastically called this air car "the first practically new aircraft that the Russian aviation industry has produced in the last twenty years." And in vain the head of the Russian state was so inspired. Because, in the first place, with this phrase, he admitted that all the aircraft-building design bureaus in Russia are indeed "lying." And secondly, he framed himself coolly (or rather, his entourage set him up), calling the modernization of the old one a new plane.
IL-476 is good because it was created at the time when the design bureau was developed and strong, and the design school was complete. Recall that the Il-76 was developed under the guidance of the outstanding Soviet designer Heinrich Novozhilov (the legendary Sergey Ilyushin in fact managed in 1967 only to approve the technical characteristics of the aircraft, giving way to the general G.Novozhilov in 1970). But no matter how beautiful the Il-76 was, it made its first serial flight back in May, the 1973. That is, 40 years ago! And we must understand that strengthening the wing, increasing the flight range by a thousand kilometers and modernizing control automation cannot make it a new machine.
However, it's time to return to the intrigue. Many people associate drastic changes in the situation with the appointment of Sergei Shoigu to the post of Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation. However, even under his predecessor Anatoly Serdyukov, the Ilyushin Design Bureau received an order for the X-NUMX Il-39 aircraft and, accordingly, the favor of President Putin. Evil tongues in the Russian Federation insist that the aviation industry (represented by the United Aircraft Corporation) is ready to cooperate with Ukraine, but irreversible changes began in Russia itself after the appointment of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation and the head of the RF Military Industrial Commission Dmitry Rogozin in December in 476. Back in the days of the performance of the role of the representative of the Russian Federation at NATO, D. Rogozin was notable for his particular dislike for Ukraine. But the matter, as Russian aircraft builders say on condition of anonymity, is not that. And the fact that Mr. Rogozin, being a relative of the head of the Ilyushin Design Bureau Viktor Livanov, “pushed” for him the position of general designer for military transport aircraft. Gradually, Mr. V.Livanov, with the support of an influential relative, began to play a much larger role than just the head of one of the Russian aircraft-building design bureaus. In particular, the implementation of the contract from the Defense Ministry for the supply of X-NUMX Il-2011 aircraft, according to analysts, will be carried out through the redistribution of resources. And not any, but those that were previously intended to manufacture modernized An-39. Thus, two Antonov planes are forced out of the market in one movement. However, not so long ago, Mr. Livanov endorsed a document prescribing to independently upgrade Ruslan - to the version of An-476-124М. Unprecedented courage, taking into account the issue of safety.
Meanwhile, the third Antonov project - on deliveries of the An-140 party of the RF Ministry of Defense - representatives of the new lobby intend to cancel by re-promoting the IL-112 aircraft (of course, with the re-allocation of funds, as previously allocated irretrievably sunk into oblivion). And nothing, that An-140 is already flying (the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation delivered four cars), and the Il-112 is still on paper. Yes, and the possibility of its creation is very doubtful - after all, Putin himself admitted that for the 20 years they have not created anything. But it seems that the Rogozin-Livanov team intends to transfer all possible projects to the Ilyushin Design Bureau. And the decision, as noted by the Deputy Minister Yuri Borisov, was expected by 1 in July 2013 in addition to the release of IL-476 instead of An-70, the modernization of An-124 without GP Antonov, replacing the military version of An-140 with non-existent IL 112 is also on the list of the notorious "MTA", an aircraft project that has been leading the way for Indian partners for a good decade. Even the managers of Russian aircraft factories have the impression that the aircraft-building lobby that was born in Russia has long been playing its own game.
By the way, this is not the whole idea-fix. The fact is that in Russia, an obsessive idea has developed to obtain documentation and equal intellectual rights to aviation projects joint with Ukraine. For example, recently the state-owned enterprise Antonov, meeting this persistent idea, gave such rights to modernize cargo hatches on the An-140 aircraft. Equal intellectual rights of the Russian side are also recorded on An-70. But how far will this idea go, and what kind of blow can be expected if the intention to independently prolong the life, maintenance and modernization of all Antonov aircraft produced and flying in the Russian Federation is walking now in Russia. These are An-140, An-148, An-158, An-124 and obsolete - An-24 and An-26. Moreover, if such a task is lobbied at the very top, after the influence of Ukraine’s aviation industry policy, implementation of the intention of “buying up” engineering personnel may follow.
Of course, one of the goals of the directors of this airplane mystery is to "bring to the knees" the Antonov company, if only by cutting off control of their own projects and drastically reducing the level of cooperation with Ukraine. To achieve a more global goal in the Russian Federation, a change in legislation is expected with a view to granting the rights to general designers to carry out work, including in the field of modernization and design support of foreign-made aircraft.
To avoid illusions
But if anyone really thinks that an equal sign can be put between An-70 and Il-476, he should read at least the statistics. Back in 2003, the An-70 set six world load capacity records, among other things, by lifting 55 tons of cargo to the height of 7355 m on tests. The An-70 surpasses even А400М in fuel efficiency. An-70 is capable of transporting 98% of the main types of armaments available (according to a special list worked out by the RF military and developers several years ago), and IL-476 - only 70%. If we talk about the nomenclature of armaments, then An-70 takes aboard 19 units of equipment, and IL-476 - only 9. The fact is that the cross section of the cargo compartment of the IL-476 is substantially less than that of all modern military transport aircraft: An-70, C-17, A-400М and even Chinese Y-20 (created, by the way, not without the help of GP "Antonov"). In reality, it looks like this: Buk air defense missile system, T-90 tank, MSTA-S self-propelled artillery, Tunguska anti-aircraft missile and cannon system and almost all modern An-70 radars take on board, but the Il-476 does not . Yes, IL-476 will be able to take some of the weapons disassembled. But the war in the Caucasus, and other military conflicts have become a vivid demonstration of the need to introduce the operational landing slogan "From the sky - to the ground - into battle!" Otherwise, the weapons brought may simply become trophies of the enemy. By the way, the Russian military themselves admitted that the return to the An-70 project in 2009 (immediately after evaluating the active phases of the Chechen conflict and the Russian-Georgian war) is precisely due to the ability of An-70 to deploy ready-made weapons. In addition, An-70 can take off from unequipped runways: for acceleration it requires 607 m along the dirt strip and 310 m - along the equipped one. This characteristic is considered important by all world developers, and therefore C-17, A-400M and Y-20 have the ability to take off from the 900-meter-long strips, including unpaved. But the IL-476 required take-off length is 2100 m. Moreover, the aviation industry claims that on the IL-476 unpaved strips it will take off and land only empty - therefore, it will not carry out the transfer of weapons and personnel. Finally, the most significant feature is fuel consumption. In "Ela" he is 1,7 more times. The hourly fuel consumption of the An-70 is 4400 kg / hour, while the IL-476 - 8100 kg / hour. In fact (according to the Russian calculations), to perform a combat mission, you can get away with the An-70 fleet, which is half the size of the Il-476 fleet. This is despite the fact that the take-off weight of the operational-tactical An-70 is 125 – 140 t, and the operational-strategic IL-476 is of the order 210 t.
That's the whole picture. Yes, the bottleneck of Ukraine is indeed the resource weakness of the Ministry of Defense, which, due to lack of funding, reduced the procurement plans from five to three aircraft. It is precisely because of the lack of budget allocations for national defense that the An-70 has not yet flown. Unfortunately, just binding the project to the military order does not allow the aircraft to be sent around the world for a walk in the export version - at least, as a new tank "Oplot", which is not supplied to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, but it went well for export. But, as for orders for An-70, then at its cost, almost three times less than A400M, there is no doubt about them. At the Antonov state enterprise, at least three states are named, ready to acquire
An-70. But that's not the point. And the fact that in their intentions to “punish” Ukraine by abandoning its aircraft, the Russian Federation will simply end up with a military transport vehicle that is inferior to all world analogues, including the Chinese. It is interesting that a number of managers of aircraft factories, and even people in the aviation administration, looking at the war unfolded by the Rogozin-Livanov group, are confident that they simply managed to confuse V.Putin to transfer most of the orders to the Ilyushin Design Bureau. Perhaps this is so. Although a special order to consider the issue of self-modernization of Antonov airplanes without agreement with the developer and decide before the 1 of August 2013 was signed just by the President of Russia. In any case, Russia has something to lose in the face of the Ukrainian aviation industry. And it will undoubtedly lose more than it could have gained.