This is Part II of our review of the main achievements of Ukraine’s defense industry in 2017 in its armored vehicle, aviation, and shipbuilding branches, and the production of precision-guided munitions, radio positioning and communication technology, and air defense systems. We’ve reviewed the 2017 performance of more than one hundred Ukroboronprom production facilities, dozens of plants represented in the Ukraine Defense Industry League, Ukraine Munition and Military Equipment Manufacturers Association, some Ukrainian developers and defense industry plants. We have gathered and analyzed a lot of open-source information to demonstrate that Ukraine is rapidly developing its military technology potential and improving the defense capacity of its army against the backdrop of Russia’s aggression. A strong army is needed for the liberation of the national territory, after all. “You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.”
The first part of our review was dedicated to the achievements of Ukraine defense industry’s armored vehicle branch. In the second part, we are going to present the major achievements of Ukraine’s aircraft makers and repairers.
Aircraft production and maintenance
The aircraft production sector is of strategic value for the defense industry. It plays one of the major parts in the defense potential of a state. Ukraine is one of a dozen most developed countries of the world that have the end-to-end aircraft development and production capacity. Ukraine’s key aircraft makers and repairers include state-owned corporations and plants, such as Antonov, the sector’s flagship plant, Civil Aviation Plant 410, aircraft repair plants, as well as private companies, such as the Motor-Sich Corporation, one of the leading aircraft engine and helicopter manufacturers.
An-132D, military transport aircraft, which made its maiden flight on March 31, 2017, became one of the major achievements of Ukraine’s aircraft engineering the last year. It was built by Antonov State Company in cooperation with KACST and Taqnia Aeronautics Co. of Saudi Arabia.
The airplane boasts state-of-the-art avionics without any components made in Russia. This is the first prototype of An-132 light transport aircraft which will replace An-32 and An-26. It is designed for a wide range of tasks for the short and medium-haul cargo transportation. It is now capable of lifting up to 9,200 kg with the flight range of 3,700 km. The aircraft features a pressurized cargo compartment and a sliding loading ramp. It carries standard palettes, up to 75 personnel or 27 wounded on stretchers, light vehicles, and can airdrop up to 3,000 kg of cargo. The An-132D took merely one year and a half to build. It is a successful example of the integration of the aircraft engineering sector of Ukraine’s defense industry with internationally renowned aircraft makers, such as Honeywell (USA), Pratt & Whitney (Canada), Liebherr-Aerospace Toulouse SAS (Germany/France), and Dowty Propellers (UK).
The An-70 upgraded with new avionics without any Russian-made components will become the next international cooperation project.
Strategically important contracts were made on November 12–16, 2017, at Dubai Airshow 2017; they will enable the implementation of the state-sponsored programs of the continued development of Ukraine’s aircraft production sector. Companies from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey stated their willingness to take part in upgrading the unique airplane. Their participation will make a substantial contribution to improving the specs of this aircraft adopted by the Ukrainian Army in 2015.
In 2017, Civil Aviation Plant 410 delivered three rebuilt An-26 military transport aircraft. All their systems were overhauled; communication, navigation, electronic, and other onboard equipment were upgraded. The upgraded aircraft will be able to not only perform the assignments of the Ukrainian Army, but also take part in joint operations with NATO forces. The National Guard and the State Emergency Management Service each received one rebuilt aircraft. In 2017, the plant has rebuilt 11 aircraft for the state of Ukraine and for foreign customers.
A Cooperation Memorandum signed by Plant 410 with Rockwell Collins, one of the world leaders in avionics production, was one of the key events of the year for the plant.
In early April 2017, Aviakon Aircraft Repair Plant (Konotop, Ukraine) ran successful evaluation tests of the modernized MI-24PU1 helicopter featuring Ukrainian-made engine control system, a 30-mm automatic cannon, and missiles including high-precision ATGMs.
This combat rotorcraft, designed to make troops more mobile and deliver fire support on the battlefield, was handed over to the Air Corps of the Ukrainian Army’s Ground Forces. Two more Mi-24PU1 helicopters were produced for the Ukrainian Army by the end of the year 2017.
In July 2017, Aviakon also ran evaluation tests of MI-8MT military transport helicopter where many Russian-made components were replaced, a Ukrainian-made flight recorder unit was installed, and many technical specifications were improved.
By the end of the year 2017, the aircraft repairers from Konotop were expected to deliver seven more MI-8MT helicopters to the Air Corps of Ukrainian Army’s Ground Forces, while the National Guard and the State Emergency Management Service were to take delivery, one each, of the same helicopter.
Aviakon contributed its resources to upgrading and overhauling of at least two unique MI-14 shore-based anti-submarine helicopters. One of them was handed over to the Ukrainian Navy and went on patrols along the maritime borders.
In 2017, Aviakon aimed at repairing at least 12 combat aircraft for Ukraine’s Air Force, National Guard, and State Emergency Management Service (SEMS). In December 2017, the enterprise won a tender for the overhaul, modernization and retrofitting of SEMS’ Mi-8MT to the tune of UAH 100 million.
It is known from open sources that MARP Aircraft Repair Plant (Mykolayiv, Ukraine) received UAH 74.18 million in funding for the complete reconditioning of IL-76MD military transport aircraft and the midlife repair of SU-24MR reconnaissance aircraft in 2017.
MiGRemont Aircraft Repair Plant (Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine) overhauled and reconditioned at least two SU-27 and one SU-27UB fighter aircraft for the Ukrainian Army’s Air Force.
In December 2017, the plant won a bid for the midlife repair of one more SU-27 fighter for the Ukrainian Army.
Lviv Aircraft Plant kept repairing and upgrading MIG-29 fighters to be handed over to the tactical air force brigades.
The plant is upgrading these fighters to the MIG-29MU2 level.
Motor-Sich, the largest manufacturer of helicopters, aircraft engines and gas turbines from Zaporizhzia, delivered to the National Guard one MI-2MSB helicopter upgraded with its new engine and armed with 80-mm S-8 unguided air-to-surface missiles. It is reported that one more helicopter of the same type was to be delivered to the National Guard.
During the last year, the company tested together with the Ukrainian Army the upgraded multi-purpose MI-2MSB and MI-8MSB helicopters with 122-mm S-13 unguided air-to-surface missiles. Together with the Flight Simulator Center, the company also successfully certified a full helicopter simulator for MI-2 with AI-450M and GTD-350 engines made to the European standards. Also, the work was going on under the project of the production of propeller blades for MI-2MSB, MI-8 and MI-24 helicopters aimed at setting up an end-to-end helicopter production cycle. In August 2017, Motor-Sich presented its MSB-2 Nadia helicopter developed and built together with Progress Design Bureau (Zaporizhzhia).
The mass production is scheduled to begin in 2018. This helicopter is adapted for the Border Service, the State Emergency Management Service, and other agencies.
In addition to Motor-Sich, MI-2MSB helicopters are also supplied to the Ukrainian Army by Vinnytsia Aircraft Plant. It repairs and upgrades MI-2 copters to the level of MI-2MSB. In the last quarter of 2017, the company repaired at least two helicopters of this type.
Odesa Aircraft Plant presented its in-house project, Delfin Y1 four-seater single-engine aircraft.
This multifunctional and easy to control airplane can be used for teaching the principles of the modern mobile air combat and spin control. Delfin can be used as patrol and monitoring aircraft in borderline areas. It features an engine made by Societe de Motorisations Aeronautiques (France) bringing its speed to 385 km/h and the flight range to 1,320 km. Delfin is equipped with an innovative parachute rescue system capable of landing the airplane safely together with its crew in case of emergency.
In 2017, the Ukrainian Army adopted Dedal, an assault parachute system made by Air-Pol (Poland).
This system is designed for training, combat, and other individual and group parachute jumps with the full set of arms and individual equipment from military transport aircraft and helicopters. The system can be used in the height range from 100 to 8,000 m; the canopy size is 83 square meters, and the descent velocity does not exceed 5 mps. It is worth mentioning that Dedal was adopted by the Polish Army’s airborne units.
Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)
The Army needs high-tech air reconnaissance to efficiently repel Russia’s armed aggression. The Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) have the capability to locate the units of the Russian army’s occupation forces in real time and direct high precision artillery fire. The UAS have already helped a number of times spot state-of-the-art EW and SIGINT equipment supplied by the Russian army to their occupation forces in Donbas, as well as groups of the Russian military equipment prohibited under the Minsk Agreements near the line of contact.
Read more: Database and videographics of the newest Russian Army equipment in Donbas detected by InformNapalm community in 2014–2017
Fly Eye multi-purpose unmanned aircraft system was adopted by the Ukrainian Army in December 2017. The drone moves at 160 km/h and is capable of aerial surveillance from a distance of up to 50 km at a height of up to 4 km for 2–3 hours. The aircraft transmits data in real time. Its takeoff mass is 11 kg with the payload of up to 4 kg.
This system is manufactured by Chernihiv Radio Equipment Plant (CheZaRa) under a license and with components supplied by WB Electronics (Poland). Sokol surveillance and assault system is under development in cooperation with the Polish partners. It will be designed for the air surveillance, detection and destruction of enemy personnel and equipment at distances of up to 10 km from the control station.
On November 8, 2017, Horlytsia—a new tactical unmanned aircraft system (TUAS) developed by Antonov—took off for its first test flights.
The first Ukrainian TUAS comprises four UAVs, one ground control station, starting, landing, transportation, and repair equipment. It is designed for the aerial optical and electronic surveillance in the visible and IR spectrum with the transmission of the acquired intelligence to the control station for at least 7 hours at any time of the day and night in all weather conditions. Horlytsia’s has a practical range of 1,050 km; the tactical range of 120 km; and the speed of up to 230 km/h. The system boasts attack weapons, real-time intelligence delivery capability, the ability to target high-precision guided munitions, adjust artillery fire, support operations communication with reconnaissance teams and units operating in isolation from the main forces and in the enemy’s tactical depth.
In 2017, Atlon Avia (Kyiv, Ukraine) carried out a state contract for the design, production, and delivery of the UAS for the State Security Service, as well as a state contract for the supply of Furia A1-SM UAS to the Ukrainian Army.
The UAS supplied to the Ukrainian Army is an upgrade of the first version incorporating the experience of its combat use in Donbas. It is designed for the aerial surveillance and artillery fire adjustment. Furia UAS is one of the unmanned systems produced by Ukraine’s private companies for the Ukrainian Army.
As of December 2017, the Ukrainian Army adopted four unmanned aerial systems: Spectator-M produced by Meridian (Kyiv), which is already used in the combat zone; ASU-1 Valkyrie made by Aviation Systems of Ukraine; UA-BETA developed by UA Technology, and HAWK developed by Ukrainian Aviation Systems. These UAS are designed for the electronic and optical aerial surveillance, monitoring, video surveillance and artillery fire adjustment at any time of the day or night.
In December 2017, Meridian won a tender to supply five UAS to the State Border Service.
In addition to the production of its own UAVs, the company is actively developing and testing the equipment for countering the enemy UAVs in the combat zone. Ukrspetstekhnika (Kyiv, Ukraine) is testing and improving its Anklav-UT radio jamming system intended for the frequency-targeted jamming of GLONASS/GPS satnav systems and for the suppression of control and telemetry signals used in UAVs and high-precision weapons. This system can be used to protect stationary military facilities against UAVs by means of the all-round jamming. The operational range is up to 40 km with directional aerials and 20 km with omnirange aerials. The use of a direction finder for the detection and reconnaissance of air targets substantially enhances the system’s capabilities.
In 2017, dozens of unmanned aerial systems were supplied to the Ukrainian Army. They substantially improved the Army’s aerial surveillance, enemy position detection, artillery fire targeting and adjustment capability.
In 2017, aircraft manufacturers and repairers supplied over 40 reconditioned and upgraded airplanes and helicopters, including up to 10 fighters. According to the data from the British International Institute of Strategic Studies featuring in The Military Balance 2017 overview of the military and defense potential, Ukraine’s Air Force has a substantial fighter group consisting of 71 aircraft: 37 MiG-29 and 34 Su-27 of various modifications. This is more than the number of fighters in possession of most European countries. According to air spotters’ data, Ukraine probably has more than 80 fighters.
The aircraft fleet is being restored quite rapidly: the technical operability level substantially improved since 2011, whereas Russian components are being replaced with those made in Ukraine and in the West. The aircraft are restored, repaired, and upgraded not only by the aircraft repair plants, but also by units of the aircraft engineering service of the Air Force capable of carrying out all the maintenance necessary to keep the aircraft combat-ready. This contributes substantially to the Ukrainian Army’s defense capability and is a reliable deterrence against a massive air assault on Ukraine’s territory.
The next part of the review will be dedicated to the achievements of the Ukrainian defense sector enhancing the capabilities of the radio and air defense troops of Ukraine.
Translated by Oleksandr Ivanov, edited by Artem Velichko
The publication features photos from: The publication uses photos from: ukroboronprom.com, mil.gov.ua, antonov.com, wb.com.p, ukrmilitary.com, arp410.kiev.ua, mil.gov.ua, spotters.net.ua, vv.com.ua, altair.com.pl, dyziek.com, wb.com.pl, 0312.ua, defence-ua.com
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