News small aviation and UAVs demonstrated at the last International Aviation and Space Salon prove that Russia has sufficient creative potential and qualified specialists. However, the exposition of the main types of aircraft indicates a deep crisis in our aviation industry, especially the civilian one.
Formally, MAKS-2015 was, as before, at a high organizational level. The entertainment part of the event was worked out excellently. About 90 aircraft took part in the flight program. The foreign presence was formally weighty enough. The United States represented 11 organizations, including Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Pratt & Whitney, France - 20 members, including the Airbus Group. MAX was visited by official delegations from 65 countries of the world and more than 66 of thousands of specialists. However, in general, compared with the MAKS-2013, the foreign representation was almost halved. But there were new members, in particular Iran. Significantly - the number of the PRC delegation increased almost three times. However, the Chinese side did not submit a single working sample for the exposition and flight program. India looked the same. From her on the tarmac were Russian-made MiG-29K ship-borne fighters and the BrahMos joint development missile.
An important indicator of the effectiveness of MAKS - the volume of transactions. Their cost, as a rule, is not disclosed. Remain secret to the general public and various agreements of intent, memorandums. Experts estimate the total amount of all agreements, including investment commitments, in approximately 320 – 330 billions of dollars. However, the amount of contracts for specific deliveries was significantly reduced and amounted, according to experts, to about two billion dollars. For comparison: in the past, MAKS, this figure was close to 16 billions. Major deals include the agreement between the Russian Ministry of Defense and UAC about the delivery of Su-48 planes to 35 Aerospace Forces, as well as the contract with Egypt for Ka-52K attack helicopters optimized for use from the deck on 52.
The composition of the aircraft presented at the salon is quite indicative: there are only 133 units. In the parking lot and in the flight program, the Airbus Group concern demonstrated the newest passenger liner A-350. The aerobatic team from Latvia performed on light aircraft. The rest of the equipment was domestic development. That is, in fact, only Russian products were present at the International Salon.
The exposition of the brand Su as the newest presented Su-35. At the same time, it is almost impossible to distinguish it from the Su-27 - the shape and dimensions of the body are almost identical. Yes, other engines, avionics and outboard armament - the aircraft became multipurpose. However, strictly speaking, it is impossible to call him a new machine - this is a deep modernization of the Su-27 with a significant increase in combat capabilities, but no more. It never occurred to anyone to allocate the latest modifications of the MiG-21 as a new aircraft, although the changes were extremely serious - even outwardly it differed significantly from the first samples. Another example is the Tu-95MS. This radically improved machine with fundamentally new weapons and on-board systems is considered only as a modernization of the predecessor - Tu-95K. Meanwhile, a qualitatively new Su-35 aircraft was created and put into service in the USSR in the 1989 year. This machine had a somewhat greater length and height, its take-off weight significantly exceeded the weight of the Su-27. It differed in the configuration of the body - had a front horizontal tail. Until the collapse of the USSR, 11 supplied such vehicles to the troops.
The novelty of MAKS-2015 is considered Su-30CM. However, it is a modernization of the Su-30, which made its first flight back in 1989. The pride of the Russian front-line bomber aviation, the Su-34, is far from new. This car went to its first flight in the same 1989. After almost 25 years after re-equipment with more modern equipment, it was adopted by the Russian Air Force. Beautiful samples of Russian long-range aviation - the Tu-160 strategic bomber and its ancestor, the long-lived Tu-95MS were created and put into service in the USSR. Still remains among the Russian exhibition equipment and Su-25. This, of course, is a first-class attack aircraft, the modernization of which can significantly increase its combat capabilities, but still a Soviet aircraft.
In flight, he demonstrated the wonders of the T-50 aerobatic art. At MAX, he was spoken of as an almost fifth-generation fighter. However, according to reputable experts, the euphoria is premature. We do not yet have Russian-designed engines capable of providing long-term cruising supersonic flight. There are no radar stations (radar) that meet the requirements of the fifth generation fighter. That is, it’s not worth hoping for the appearance in the coming years of the long-awaited promising front-line aviation complex (PAK FA). Although the development of such an aircraft is from the beginning of 90-x, and the specification for it appeared in the USSR. That is, according to the concept, this aircraft is also Soviet. This is logical, because it was at that time that the F-22 Raptor entered the US Air Force. In response to the American challenge, our fifth generation machine was created. They even look very similar.
Transport aviation was introduced to the IL-70 aircraft well-known from the beginning of the 76-ies and its IL-476 modification. The latter represents the same Il-76 airframe with the installation of PS-90A engines (again, of Soviet design) and modernized avionics (EBA). Its capabilities have increased significantly, but this is still just a modernization (albeit a deep one) of the good old IL-76.
Among the samples exhibited was a veteran of the front aviation of Russia / USSR - Su-24 and its modifications. Already it can not be called the latest achievement of the aircraft industry. Its combat effectiveness is the merit of Soviet designers.
There is no doubt that Indian and Russian ship fighters MiG-29К / KUB presented at the exhibition are new and interesting. And he and the other developed and adopted in the USSR. In particular, the landing of the Su-80 and MiG-33K on the Kuznetsov deck was being worked out at the end of the 29-x. So these MiGs are actually Soviet aircraft, despite the new, more modern avionics.
Perhaps the only fully-fledged Russian military aircraft presented at MAKS is the MiG-35. At the same time, an officer from the service personnel of the car notes that according to the airframe the plane differs little from the MiG-29K.
The Tu-22М3 long-range aircraft appeared in service with the Air Force and Navy of the USSR in the middle of the 80's and over the past years have not been subjected to major alterations. One of them was presented at MAKS.
A novelty can be considered IL-38H. This is really a breakthrough plane for Russia. A qualitatively new search and aiming system (PPS) put him among the most advanced ones, putting the P-3D in line with the American Orion. This faculty was developed in the post-Soviet era.
Achievements in the field of helicopter turned out to be presented by the good old Mi-24 and Mi-8 of the latest modifications, as well as Ka-52, Mi-17 and Mi-171 (the last two, like Su-35, are a deep modernization of their predecessor - Mi-8 ).
Thus, at MAKS, it was clearly demonstrated that the Russian Air Force is equipped with modern to some extent Soviet equipment. As one of the leading experts in this field rightly pointed out, he used to be a major military leader in the past: "This is a great exhibition of the achievements of the Soviet aircraft industry." There were no foreign aircraft produced by MAKS.
Civil aircraft actually represented the "Sukhoi Superjet 100" and Tu-214. The latest car of the Soviet development. Regular upgrading allows it to hold on to the world level, competing with the American Boeing 737 or the European A 321. But production volumes are negligible - eight to nine cars a year, while Boeing launches aircraft for the same time before 500. According to official statements, the release of SSJ 100 already in the 2016 year can be brought to 30 – 40 units. However, experts predict that they will actually release two times less. The main reason is sanctions: almost 70 percent of the aircraft consists of foreign components according to the key nomenclature and so far it is not possible to ensure full import substitution. This is understandable - in the USSR it took several decades to create a fully-fledged aviation industry that was independent of foreign supplies. After a quarter-century systematic defeat of the domestic industry with the existing social system, which virtually excludes the possibility of concentrating the efforts of the whole society on solving the key tasks of the development of the country, it is impossible to reconstruct what was destroyed in a reasonable time. And who will be engaged in the organization? A significant part of the modern ruling elite is made up of the very people who, in the 90 and zero, smashed industry under the banner of the free market and integration into the world community.
It did not appear at the air show of Ilyushins civil aircraft - Il-96-400 in passenger and cargo performance. These are quite modern airliners, the modernization of which would allow Russia to have its own wide-body machines that meet international standards, but judging by MAKS, they were put to the cross. Instead of improving them, an agreement is concluded with China to jointly develop a wide-body aircraft, the design of which should be completed by the 2025 year. It is clear that Russia can participate in this project mainly by technologies (that is, we have world-class developments in the field of civil aircraft construction), and China - with money. It is natural to assume that the corresponding production will unfold mainly in the PRC. No wonder that representatives of this country at MAKS noticed that soon Chinese-made airplanes would dominate the Russian sky. And if domestic engineers and designers have a sufficient level of qualification to create a modern airliner together with less competent foreign partners, then the question arises: what or who prevents them from doing the same in Russia on their own? The answer is obvious: the leadership of our air carriers, who do not want to buy their own aircraft, and the officials responsible for the development of aviation.
In addition to the IL-38H at MAKS were really new items. These are primarily PD-14 engines, designed for the promising MC-21 and VK-800В airliners with which Russian helicopters should be equipped. Of great interest are the new anti-radar missiles (PRR) X-58USHK and X-58ShKE, the production of which is expected to start from 2017 year (although this is a thorough modernization of the Soviet PRR X-58 adopted by the USSR in 1978). However, for such a large-scale forum as MAKS, this is too little.
Small aircraft as a mirror of industry problems
Indeed, the latest models were presented, and quite widely, only by various military, civilian and dual-purpose unmanned aerial vehicles. The range of cars of this class is very large - from miniature, 20 – 25 in size in centimeters in diameter and weighing a little over a kilogram, to large ones, ten times heavier. Some of these samples adopted by the Russian army. Others are used to solve various problems in the interests of state and municipal structures, as well as commercial organizations. Most of this technique was developed on its own initiative by compact creative teams.
Samples of manned vehicles designed by such teams are also interesting. In particular, the gyrolet. With a weight of about 400 kilograms, he is able to fly with three passengers about 800 kilometers at a speed of 140 – 160 kilometers per hour. This machine does not need special airfields (for take-off and landing, it has a fairly smooth section of 100 – 150 meters in length), and its primitive and reliable design has a huge market. Especially it concerns Russia with its open spaces and underdeveloped road and airfield network.
Thus, MAKS has shown: where politicians, biased and mercenary leadership do not interfere with domestic specialists, the most advanced models of technology are being developed in a large variety. This is evident from the new UAV and small aircraft. But where, when making decisions, the geopolitical interests of other powers and the self-interest of individual officials and leaders prevail, stagnation and degradation prevail. The proof of this is what is happening today with the main aircraft of Russia, both military and (especially) civil.
In general, MAKS-2015 left not very good impressions and sowed a certain alarm. First of all, for our aviation industry. It is clear that the crisis continues to deepen. And the main reason is incompetent and sometimes self-serving leadership of the industry. There were doubts in our BRICS allies, who did not deploy a single aircraft. But China has its aircraft industry, which could demonstrate new aircraft, in particular, J-20 - an analogue of our T-50, which made its first flight back in 2011, or J-10 - the car of its full development, the regional airliner ARJ21, which is supposed to be operated from this year, and a number of other machines (excluding, of course, unlicensed copies of Russian aircraft). Could boast of their products, and Brazil, which has a family of his own regional jets Embraer ERJ145, as well as military aircraft together with Italy (Alenia / Aermacchi / Embraer AMX A1A and A1V) and independent (Embraer EMB-110, 111, 120, 135 and 326) development. And although these are not entirely new cars, they would undoubtedly be of interest to Russian and foreign specialists.
Of course, the problems of MAKS-2015 are to some extent connected with the aggravation of relations between Russia and the countries of the West. However, according to a number of reputable experts, a certain role was played, apparently, by the not quite effective management of the aerospace salon itself. An indirect confirmation of this is that, according to experts, the income of MAKS decreased, while expenses increased by almost 10 – 15 percent compared to 2013 year. At the same time, the average cost of exhibition space has increased by about 10 percent.