The defense industry has always played a significant role in the structure of the economy of the Ural region. The crisis situation of 90-s has led to the fact that many enterprises have significantly reduced production, making active attempts to redirect it to the production of other types of products. Nevertheless, in recent years, information about the demand for products of Ural defense enterprises in other countries has begun to appear again.
Among the most active customers, African countries play a significant role. Numerous regional conflicts that occasionally flare up on the Black Continent contribute to the fact that these states show an interest in armament and equipment produced in the Urals. It is important to note: this is not only about the traditional partners of the Soviet Union. Interest in Russian arms even those states with which during the Cold War years any cooperation was simply unthinkable.
So, in particular, a new anti-mine complex "Kaspir" was adopted for the armament of the South African Army, which differs from previous versions in that it uses elements of the Russian "Ural". The Casspir model itself has been used by South Africans for thirty years, both in numerous military conflicts outside the country (for example, in Namibia) and in the course of eliminating internal unrest. The machine was developed by Sandok-Ostrel and was intended for use in local conflicts. In the cockpit were two people, another 12 soldiers - in a protected body.
Over the years, 30 "Casspir" has been repeatedly upgraded. At the beginning of the XXI century in South Africa, it was decided to transfer this car to the Ural platform. As a representative of the manufacturer Johan Stein noted in an interview, the new version cost almost 30 less than all previous analogues. In this case, the technical characteristics and functional base only improved. The car became more maneuverable and roomy (now “Casspir” accommodates 18 people), comfortable shockproof seats appeared. According to the designers, even undermining the car on the 21-kilogram charge under the wheel and 14-kilogram - under the body is unable to harm the car.
In 2004, work began on the creation of such an anti-mine police car in Russia. It was the South African Kasspir that was taken as a guideline. The feasibility of developing this type of military equipment is primarily associated with the continuation of the conflict in the North Caucasus, when it was attacks on car convoys that became the main cause of death of personnel. Maintenance of such columns of armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles and tanks yielded results, but was a very costly measure. To solve this problem, work was begun on "dressing" in the armor of the "Urals" and KamAZ trucks. At the same time, experiments with the Ural were, as many experts believe, more successful, since the mine resistance of the BMP-97 escort armored personnel carrier (aka KAMAZ-43269 Shot) turned out to be low. As a result, specialists developed a model of a special armored police car SPM-3 "Bear", which should be used as a vehicle and operational and service vehicle of the internal troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs during counter-terrorism operations and measures to curb riots. Thus, in this case, the experience of creating an armored vehicle in South Africa became an example for Russian manufacturers of military equipment.
From cars to weapons
The Ural plant, part of the GAZ group, has been very active in the African market in recent years. In August 2008, it was announced that 50 all-wheel drive trucks "Ural-4320" with the wheel formula 6х6 were delivered to Sudan. At the same time, the vehicles intended for operation in Sudan were refined to meet the climatic conditions of East Africa.
In 2009, there were reports in many media about the opening by Ural of an assembly production of trucks in Sudan. Its capacity was to make two thousand cars a year. Explaining the reasons for choosing Sudan as a production site, Oleg Gamov, head of the public relations department of the GAZ group, said that geopolitical factors played a special role, as well as favorable market conditions. Analyst at Troika Dialog, Gennady Sukhanov, pointed out the same thing: “GAZ exports its own trucks to various developing countries and to help promote these cars, it is necessary to enlist the support of the local state.” He believed that GAZ would receive some benefits from the government of Sudan. Another expert, analyst of Otkritie FC, Kirill Tachennikov, pointed out that this is a screwdriver assembly of a small amount of cars. This could not have a decisive impact on the financial and operating activities of the company. The problem was that the organization of large-scale production requires an appropriate level of investment, which was impossible to achieve, especially in the financial crisis.
The organization “Ural” of the production of machines in Sudan was supposed to compensate for the decline in sales in Russia. Under the influence of the financial crisis in the fourth quarter of 2008, the Russian truck market fell by 30 – 40 percent. As a representative of the Bank of Moscow Mikhail Lyamin noted in an interview, the attractiveness of the Sudanese project is largely due to its low cost. At a meeting with the governor of the Chelyabinsk region Peter Sumin in 2009, the general director of Ural Viktor Korman said that the Sudanese side had already prepared a platform for the production of trucks. Under these conditions, the plant had only to organize the timely delivery of vehicle sets.
The importance of this project for the “Ural” was that it was possible to move from Sudan to other African markets. By 2009, apart from Sudan, Ethiopia had already concluded an agreement with the Ural enterprise. Back in 1999, more than 600 machines "Ural-4320" went to this East African country from the Chelyabinsk region. Then more than 200 "Ural" bought Egypt. At the beginning of the XXI century, the volume of deliveries of trucks "Ural" in Sudan and Ethiopia was about 300 cars per year. At the same time, the total capacity of the African market is about 500 – 600 thousand trucks per year. However, as analysts pointed out, not a single Russian automobile plant that launched the assembly in developing countries could fully capture this market.
In 2011, a new state appeared on the map of Africa - South Sudan. However, this did not lead to a complete normalization of the situation in this region, which had already been engulfed in a civil war for a long time. And the matter is not only that relations of South Sudan with its northern neighbors remained complicated. In southern Sudan itself, seven armed groups continued to fight with the government, accusing the authorities of corruption and authoritarianism. Under these conditions, Russian military equipment remains in demand. Moreover, long-standing historical relations of Russia and the young state. Many South Sudan leaders were trained in Ethiopia by Soviet instructors. As noted by the Russian President’s Special Representative for Africa, the head of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs, Mikhail Margelov, the Ural truck and Kalashnikov assault rifle are strongly associated with the people of South Sudan with our country.
Of those enterprises in the Urals that have been actively cooperating with Sudan for a long time, Izhmash can be singled out. Among the partners of the Ural plant is the company Wail Shams Aldin Hassan Trading Enterprises registered in Khartoum. In total, by the beginning of 2012, in cooperation with Rosoboronexport, contracts with customers of Izhmash products from approximately 30 countries of North Africa, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific Region were planned. Among the weapons supplied for export, along with the famous Kalashnikov assault rifles, various SVD, SVDS, SV-98, SV-99 sniper rifles, the Bison and Vityaz submachine guns can be distinguished.
The expansion of sales markets undertaken by the former general director of Izhmash, Maxim Kuzyuk, was undoubtedly connected with the need to get out of the crisis, which turned out to be an enterprise by the beginning of 2012. The anti-crisis team has planned the completion of the unification within the Izhmash and the transfer of all contracts to the newly created structure, the purchase of new equipment for the production of weapons. The enterprise’s participation in the international exhibition “Weapons and Hunting”, held in the autumn of 2011, was also aimed at solving these problems. During the exhibition, a number of foreign partners became interested in small arms produced by Izhmash.
Variety of offers
Among those enterprises of the Urals that actively cooperate with foreign partners (including from Africa), one can also name the Ural Optical and Mechanical Plant (UOMZ) named after E. S. Yalamov. UOMZ is one of the largest enterprises in the optoelectronic industry in Russia, leading its beginning in the mid-XNUMXth century. The main specialization of the plant is the development and production of optical and optoelectronic systems and military and civilian systems, optical surveillance systems. UOMZ is a supplier of optoelectronic equipment for leading Russian manufacturers aviation technicians. The company's products are part of the on-board equipment of Su, MiG combat aircraft, Kamov and Mil helicopters of various modifications.
Starting from 2003, the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation granted the Urals Optical and Mechanical Plant the right to foreign trade in military products. The right of independent military-technical cooperation gives UOMZ the opportunity to carry out the full range of after-sales service for previously supplied military equipment. Among those countries that buy UOMZ products, there are a number of African states. As the materials of the official site of the enterprise show, the UOMZ products are sold in Algeria, Sudan, Ethiopia, and South Africa.
It is not by chance that at Russian arms exhibitions, in recent years, the stands of the Ural Optical and Mechanical Plant have become the most visited African delegations in recent years. For example, at the Innoprom-2011 exhibition, a delegation from the Algerian city of Annaba, Ekaterinburg's twin city, was present. It was headed by Governor Annaba El-Ghazi Mohammed. African guests were most interested in optoelectronic systems and instruments for aviation navigation. UOMZ stand was actively visited by delegations from African countries and at the traditional exhibition Russian Expo Arms 2011, held in Nizhny Tagil. In particular, during the show, negotiations were held with delegations from Zambia and Uganda, who were interested in the possibility of installing optical surveillance systems.
The well-established ties with African states in the framework of the supply of military products help UOMZ enter the markets of the countries of the Black Continent and with its civilian goods. So, in January 2012, the traditional Arab Health 2012 exhibition was held in the United Arab Emirates, which was attended by many representatives from African countries. The products of the UOMZ subsidiary company Trialptek were also exhibited. In the spring of 2012, the Ural Optical and Mechanical Plant entered the Libyan market. Incubators for newborns, phototherapeutic irradiators and other medical equipment have been supplied to this African country. As the head of the UOMZ export department Anton Yuzefovich noted in one of the interviews, the Libyan market looks very promising, since many healthcare facilities require rehabilitation and re-equipment. Agreements on the advancement of medical technology have been concluded by the Ural enterprise and with Egyptian partners.
The Kurgan Machine-Building Plant, which produces several modifications of infantry fighting vehicles, is also striving to enter the markets of Arab countries. They have already delivered BMPs to a number of countries in the Middle East, publications about the company's products are posted on the pages of a number of specialized military journals published in the Arab world. Valery Dorodny, General Director of the Kurgan Machine-Building Plant, was part of the Russian delegation that visited Angola. During the visit, he made proposals for servicing and upgrading military equipment in service with the national Ministry of Defense. The BMPs produced at the Kurgan plant were exported in recent years also to Algeria and Egypt. The significance of such agreements becomes even greater if we take into account the economic difficulties that the Kurgan Region has faced in recent years. This subject of the Russian Federation traditionally focuses on agricultural production, while the industrial sector of the regional economy has been experiencing obvious difficulties for many years.
One of the largest exporters of military equipment in the Urals region is the Ufa Engine-Building Production Association (UMPO), an enterprise of the United Engine-Building Company. His specialization is the production of aircraft engines, as well as helicopter units. African partners are also interested in UMPO products. Back in November 2006, the company was visited by a delegation from Nigeria, which included the military attache of the country's embassy in the Russian Federation, now Commodore Aviation Terry Omatsola Okorodudo, General Director of the National Emergency Management Agency, Deputy Air Marshal Audu Bida. Foreign guests left the highest accolades: “We are impressed with the scale and modern level of production of aircraft engines in UMPO,” said Odu-Bida.
In recent years, contacts of the Ufa Engine Industrial Association with other African countries have been developing. So, in 2011, Algeria and Uganda bought UMPO products. According to UMPO management, Algeria accounts for about 20 percent of the company's total exports (deliveries are made through the Irkutsk Aviation Plant). In the spring of 2012, the layout of the engine for Su-35С fighters, produced by UMPO, was demonstrated at the international exhibition of land and naval weapons in New Delhi "Defexpo India-2012". Delegations from African states also participated in the show.
The delegation of the Uralvagonzavod plant in Nizhniy Tagil was also present there. UVZ presented here the newest modernized tank T-90С. Uralvagonzavod actively interacts with partners from African countries. Thus, military equipment manufactured by UVZ is actively shipped to Algeria. In recent years, Uralvagonzavod has been upgrading T-72 tanks, which were delivered to Algeria in the previous time. In addition, in February 2012 in the Algerian newspaper "El-Vatan" an article appeared under the loud title "The Algerian army is strengthened by Russian tanks." It was about the supply of a large batch of T-90, produced by Uralvagonzavod.
The Ural “defense specialists” maintain their positions in those African countries with which active military-technical cooperation was carried out as early as the Soviet period, primarily in Algeria and Ethiopia.