Will the defense industry of Ukraine be able to survive?
All these models of technology, which have an extremely strange and absurd appearance (with the exception of the medical machine), immediately became the subject of offensive jokes and comparisons. Indeed, such improvised armored vehicles, even if made on the production capacities of defense enterprises, are an indispensable attribute of recent local conflicts in the countries of Africa and Asia, but by no means Europe. However, all these samples of equipment can be not only a pretext for wit, but also evidence of the extremely poor state of the Ukrainian defense industry.
For example, the Nikolaev armored plant previously was engaged in repair of armored vehicles of various types. In addition, his staff have developed several options for upgrading existing equipment, as well as presented projects of various vehicles based on armored personnel carriers. Now, experienced workers and engineers have to perform specific orders that combine the desire to get new equipment and save on it due to limited capabilities.
The state of the technology of the Ukrainian armed forces (in particular, the machines remaining in the Crimea), as well as the appearance of the transferred samples (mobile checkpoint, etc.) speak not only about the limited capabilities of the military, but also about the extremely poor state of the defense industry. In the past two decades, Kiev has not paid due attention to the army and defense enterprises. The results of such an attitude towards them are perfectly visible in the reports from Novorossia.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, more than 3,5 thousand enterprises, institutes and design bureaus directly or indirectly associated with defense production remained on the territory of independent Ukraine. The total number of their employees exceeded 3 million people. The production of finished products for the needs of the army, as well as components supplied to other enterprises, was conducted at 700 plants, where almost 1,5 million people worked. In other words, Ukraine received a powerful industry that has mastered a large number of types of various products and has the potential for development. For example, about 140 organizations in the space industry became Ukrainian, and aircraft manufacturers sent their customers up to 300-350 aircraft per year.
The leadership of independent Ukraine did not use the available opportunities and develop the defense industry. As a result, in the first years of independence, the industry suffered serious losses. According to some reports, by the end of the nineties, the number of defense enterprises decreased by more than five times, in particular, several hundred design offices and institutes were closed. The share of defense products in the structure of all products of the Ukrainian industry collapsed from 30-35% to 5-6%. All this had the expected negative consequences of a social nature, since hundreds of thousands of people were left without work and were forced to look for new ways to earn money.
The reasons for the deterioration of the Ukrainian defense industry are simple and lie in the intentions of politicians. At first, the authorities of an independent state under ostentatiously pacifist slogans refused to develop enterprises and did not care about their preservation. Subsequently, numerous industrial ties with Russian enterprises struck the industry. Kiev headed for rapprochement with Western countries and expressed a desire to join NATO. As a result, joint Russian-Ukrainian projects and, as a result, organizations involved in them began to suffer. The cooling of relations between the two countries, which occurred during the reign of Viktor Yushchenko, struck again both on cooperation and on Ukrainian enterprises.
Despite all the problems, a number of Ukrainian enterprises still managed to maintain ties with their Russian colleagues. However, the political interests of those in power again affected their work. In June, the new Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko demanded an end to cooperation with Russia in the military-technical sphere. The risks associated with such a move were apparently not taken into account.
In response to the decision of the new Kiev authorities, official Moscow began the development of an import substitution program, the goal of which is to master the production of all the necessary products at Russian enterprises. According to domestic media reports, the program is expected to master the production of about 3 thousands of various parts and components, until recently purchased from Ukrainian enterprises. These products were manufactured and supplied by 160 enterprises of Ukraine and used in the production of about 200 types of weapons and equipment.
An additional problem is the fact that some Ukrainian enterprises produce not only individual parts, but also finished products. Thus, together with a factory supplying finished products to Russia (for example, aviation or ship engines) other enterprises that supply him with necessary components will suffer from a break in cooperation. As a result, the number of factories, production associations, etc., incurring losses due to a break in cooperation, may increase significantly: several hundred organizations will suffer from the Ukrainian side.
It should be noted that the gap in cooperation will deal a significant blow to the Russian defense industry. However, the leadership of the country and the industry, without waiting for the relevant decision of the official Kiev, began developing a plan designed to protect the industry from the unfriendly steps of the now former partners. As for the Kiev authorities, they do not seem to be going to take any measures to rescue their enterprises. At least, messages about finding new buyers of products, etc. news have not yet appeared.
Earlier, long before the latest events, Ukrainian officials and industrialists argued that the country's defense industry would be able to enter the international market, as well as get rid of the existing dependence on Russian colleagues. Indeed, some organizations of Ukraine managed to find foreign partners. For example, the Kiev Luch design bureau actively cooperates with the Belgian company Cockerill and develops guided weapons for it. However, such successes of “Ray” are still one of several isolated cases, since the vast majority of Ukrainian defense enterprises still depend on Russian ones.
Over the past few years, Ukraine has consistently been in the first places in the ranking of sellers of "used" military equipment. Several enterprises in the country were engaged in removing old equipment from storage, repairing it and equipping it with new equipment, after which it was sent to third countries. During the Soviet era, a powerful grouping of troops was stationed on the territory of the Ukrainian SSR, which was to take over the blow from the western direction. Due to this, independent Ukraine got a large number of various types of equipment.
For financial reasons, a considerable number of cars were mothballed and added to those already standing at the storage bases. The constant reduction of the armed forces allowed Ukraine to accumulate a sufficiently large number tanks, armored personnel carriers and other equipment, after some work suitable for sale. Export contracts were a real salvation for several factories that had to deal with the repair of sold equipment.
It is also necessary to note the attempts of some enterprises to develop new equipment and sell it to foreign military. So, the Kharkov engineering design bureau for them. A.A. Morozova presented the projects of armored personnel carriers BTR-3 and BTR-4. Machines of these types were built serially and delivered to various foreign countries. For example, the first order of Thailand meant the delivery of more than a hundred BTR-3, and Iraq once ordered more than 400 BTR-4. Even taking into account the problems of the BTR-4, because of which Iraq broke the contract, the projects of Kharkov-developed armored personnel carriers can be considered successful with a certain reservation.
Some enterprises that have connections not only with their Russian colleagues are less exposed to the risks associated with the decisions of the new authorities. For others, termination of cooperation may be fatal, since they will not be able to work with existing partners, and it will take time to find new ones. In the light of the structure of defense exports, this situation looks extremely dangerous and forces you to make unfavorable forecasts.
Because of the illiterate actions of the authorities, the defense industry of Ukraine in the nineties suffered heavy losses. Most of the enterprises switched to producing other products or ceased to exist at all. Now the industry is again hostage to the interests of high-ranking officials. It is already clear that due to the recent actions of the new Kiev authorities, the defense industry of Ukraine will suffer significant losses. What they will be and whether the industry will survive - time will tell.
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