"Russia has its own line of kamikaze drones»

Image source: Фото: Ростех

Industrial Director of the Rostec weapons complex Bekhan Ozdoev-about the future of combat drones, the prospects of Armata and the latest Kalashnikov assault rifles

The past year 2020 has also been a difficult one for the Russian military-industrial complex. Bekhan Ozdoev, industrial director of the armament complex of the Rostec State Corporation, told Izvestia about how the coronavirus epidemic affected the implementation of international contracts and state defense orders, whether Armata will become unmanned and when domestic kamikaze attack drones will appear.

— What are the indicators of cluster weapons "Rostec" finished the year 2020? What was the impact on the work force majeure with coronavirus infection?

The pandemic did not significantly affect the revenue of the arms complex. Of course, there were problems for individual enterprises, but at the same time, for someone, the current situation even worked in a plus. In general, the positive dynamics of revenue remained-by the end of 2020, we forecast its growth by 9% compared to 2019.

It was impossible to allow the factories to stop because of the coronavirus, because this would directly affect national security. It was also impossible to stop our work on export contracts. Thanks to the measures taken, we did not allow large-scale cuts, minimized the risks of infection of our employees at enterprises, and paid salaries without delay.

Despite the difficulties that arose, the Rostec enterprises did not allow them to disrupt the state defense order. Moreover, the pandemic has practically not prevented us from fulfilling our export contracts, and arms supplies to our foreign customers have been fulfilled almost in full, the amount is approximately at the level of 2019. Of course, there was a slight decline in demand at the beginning of last year, as a number of countries sent money to fight the coronavirus, but the order portfolio remained at about $50 billion.

Of course, the pandemic did not pass without a trace. The profit for the cluster in 2020 decreased slightly compared to 2019. However, I expect that 2021 will be a much easier year for businesses and their profits will return to sustainable growth.

Photo: IZVESTIA/Zurab Javakhadze

Image source: iz.ru

— The Russian economy has already started to recover — what goals do you set for the enterprises of the complex? What indicators do you plan to reach by the end of 2021?

— I would like to see the pandemic and the associated stresses become a thing of the past. We expect that the organizations of the Rostec arms complex will show growth in all indicators.

At the same time, our defense enterprises produce not only weapons and military equipment, but also civilian products. The task of diversifying production was set by the President of the country, and we strive to fulfill it. At the end of 2020, the revenue from the sale of civilian products exceeded 100 billion rubles. In 2021, we expect it to increase further-by almost a quarter, to 125 billion rubles.

According to our plans, revenue as a whole should increase by 12% this year. In terms of EBITDA, the forecast is also optimistic — it is planned to grow by 43% compared to 2020.

- The newest Russian T-14 Armata tank has been participating in Victory parades since 2014. At what stage is the program for its development now? Will we see the Armata in an unmanned version?

— No one in the world has such a tank now, and I think it will not appear at all soon. Objectively "Armata" and its developer, our company Uralvagonzavod, is now out of the competition.

In addition to good protection and firepower, this machine is distinguished by its "intelligence" — a high level of automation, which gives the crew more opportunities on the battlefield. Many things, including the search for goals, the technique does itself.

T-14 " Armata»

Image source: Photo: IZVESTIA/Zurab Javakhadze

By and large, the T-14 can be made into an autonomous combat robot — a large and powerful unmanned tank. We've already tried him out in this role. Of course, the T-14 will not be mass-produced in an unmanned version and is rather used for testing the relevant technologies. However, this clearly demonstrates the height of the bar that we have set for ourselves.

Taking into account the fact that this combat vehicle has implemented unprecedented design solutions, the path from drawing to adoption cannot be short. The work is proceeding according to the schedule agreed with the Ministry of Defense.

— Last year can be called the year of unmanned aviation. UAVs were effectively used in combat operations in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh. In particular, the so-called kamikaze drones Orbiter and Harop showed high efficiency. Earlier, Rostec announced the development and mass production of domestic analogues. In particular, the CUBE and Lancet drones have already been used in combat operations. What is the current state of affairs with the development of Russian kamikaze drones? Is there any interest in such UAVs from foreign buyers?

— Today, Russia has its own line of kamikaze drones. The interest in it on the world arms market is extremely high. A significant role in this was also played by the fact that we tested them in Syria, in real combat conditions. You can say that they showed the product in person. These are very effective tools on the battlefield, which at the same time are much cheaper than missiles and are almost invisible to radars.

Our manufacturers have achieved some success in creating "barrage ammunition", which in some characteristics even surpass foreign competitors, so you should not be surprised at the lively interest of other countries. At the moment, this equipment is not exported yet. So far, the primary goal is to provide our own army with the latest weapons.

- The Turkish Bayaraktar attack drones were highly appreciated in the world. What UAVs, similar to the Turkish one, is Rostec ready to present now? Earlier, the corporation presented a unique UAV "Corsair". The car was even shown at the Victory Parade in 2018. What is the current stage of work on these UAVs? When will their mass production begin? Are there any foreign buyers interested?

- Now Rosoboronexport is successfully promoting the Orion-E reconnaissance and strike complex, which is considered a "classmate" of the Bayaraktar TV-2, to the world market. It aroused great interest from other countries. I will not disclose the details, at this stage, extra information can negatively affect the course of negotiations.


Image source: Photo: RIA Novosti/Alexey Filippov

As for the "Corsair", now it is undergoing trial operation. When the Defense Ministry is ready to conclude the contract, the Luch Design Bureau, the lead manufacturer, will launch mass production of these drones. Let me also remind you that an export version of this drone, the Corsair — E, has been created. The drone were presented at the forum "Army".

It is extremely important that in our developments we use a national, Russian base with domestic components. This guarantees a high level of protection against unauthorized external interference in the operation of the equipment. Plus, we do not depend on export supplies. This is especially true in the light of sanctions and unfair competition, which is growing from the West.

— Last year, a whole campaign was launched in the foreign media against the Russian anti-aircraft missile and gun systems "Pantsir". It was stated that they did not perform well in the battles in Syria and Libya. Did this negative PR campaign affect the interests of foreign buyers of the Pantsir ZRPC?

- Of course, we have seen all these publications and assess them as disinformation. This was a planned campaign aimed at discrediting Russian military products in general and "Pantsir" in particular.

We analyzed every case reported by foreign media, and saw that it was a photo and video montage or cases of attacks on complexes that had completely used up all the ammunition and were in a defenseless position.

This is a very effective weapon, which confirms the experience of real combat operation of the "Shell". Therefore, the interest in this complex in the world was, is and will remain high for a long time.

— For a long time, the latest AK-12 machine gun, which was adopted, was not presented in the troops in significant numbers. Now we see that it is increasingly appearing in service in various military units. In your opinion, can the AK-12 become the same hit on the international market as the AK-100 series previously?

- Kalashnikov assault rifles are a brand that does not need to be introduced, including abroad. Therefore, foreign customers are always interested in our new products. AK-12, which began to be supplied to the Russian army in 2018, became the ancestor of a whole series of weapons for different calibers. For more than two years, tens of thousands of "twelve" have already gone to the troops.

Let me remind you that this weapon was created as part of the equipment of the soldier of the future "Ratnik" and meets the increased requirements of the military for accuracy of fire and ergonomics with the same reliability. And before going into operation, the machines were seriously tested, repeatedly refined and improved.

Therefore, it is not surprising that the entire series, which in addition to the AK-12 also includes the AK-15 for the 7.62 x 39 mm cartridge and the AK-19 for the 5.56 x 45 mm NATO cartridge,is of interest to foreign partners. First of all, we are talking, of course, about the AK-15 submachine guns. Moreover, test batches have already been delivered to some neighboring countries.

I believe that our submachine guns will become bestsellers in the arms market. This applies to both the AK-12 and AK-15, as well as to the sample for the NATO cartridge. Moreover, the AK-19, not having time to go into production, is already attracting potential buyers. Its foreign premiere will take place at the IDEX 2021 exhibition, where we will present our most modern 5.56 caliber automatic rifle to foreign customers.

Alexey Ramm

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