MAKS 2017 Air Show
ZHUKOVSKY (MOSCOW REGION). Russia’s latest twin- engine MiG- 35 and under development fifth generation PAK-FA T-50 stealth fighters were the star attractions of the 13th edition of Mezhdunarodny AviaKosmichesky Salon or MAKS- 2017 ( International Aviation and Space Salon) held July 18-23 at the Ramenskoe Airfield of the Gromov Flight Research Institute here. Due to the US-led Western sanctions over Ukraine imposed on Moscow in 2014, there was little international presence in the sky above and static display on the tarmac below. However, Airbus, which has a long list of customers in Russia, proudly demonstrated its A-350Neo on the ground and air in the absence of its rival Boeing’s Dreamliner. Swiss Pilatus trainer aircraft, L-410 of Czech Republic also demonstrated their capabilities. The flight programme of MAKS-2017 was dominated by battle-proven in Syria Su-30SM and Su35S, aerobatics teams Strizhi (The Swallows) and Vityazi (The Knights) on MiG-29 and Su-30SM jets. The Baltic Bees Jet Team from NATO-member Latvia wowed the spectators but Fursan Al Emarat (The Emirate’s Knights) of the United Arab Emirates Air Force’s aerobatic team on their seven Aermacchi MB-339 jet aircraft won the hearts of the public with their colourful displays concluding with huge heart shape trails in the sky over the Zhukovsky town.
Although MAKS-2017 was little international in the air but on the ground it was quite the opposite with stands and displays of British Rolls-Royce, the US Pratt & Whitney, Teledyne Controls, French SAFRAN and many others. According to Mr Viktor Kladov, International Cooperation Director of Rostec State Corporation, 180 companies from 37 nations including India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) took part in MAKS-2017.
In all 880 Russian and foreign companies participated in MAKS- 2017 organised jointly by the Russian Federation’s Industry and Trade Ministry and Rostec State Corporation - an umbrella organisation uniting hi-tech defence producers and state arms export monopoly “Rosoboronexport” (ROE).
WITH INDIA ON RUSSIA’S MIND
Calling India a ‘privileged strategic partner’ senior executives of various arms and defence producers, including Rostec CEO Sergei Chemezov, told India Strategic on the sidelines of MAKS-2017 that Russian military-industrial complex is ready to share ‘most sensitive technologies’ with India. With focus on India, a select group of Indian journalists was hosted by Rostec at MAKS-2017 to get first-hand knowledge about the state of affairs in Indo-Russian defence cooperation.
The official Indian delegation at MAKS- 2017 was led by HAL CMD T. Suvarna Raju and included representatives of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Ministry of Defence (MoD). However, no other details were immediately available from the Indian Embassy here but it is evident that their talks would have been focused on a final contract for the sale of S-400 Triumf long-range air defence systems and nitty-gritty of fifth generation fighter aircraft - FGFA for the IAF to be developed jointly with Russia’s Sukhoi on the basis of its PAK-FA T-50 platform. RAC MiG, which for the first time presented its latest MiG-35 fighter of 4++ generation at MAKS2017 is eyeing India with optimism. Taking questions at the public presentation of MiG-35, RAC MiG CEO Ilya Tarasenko confirmed intention to offer the latest fighter under ‘Make in India’ programme.
Mr Tarasenko claimed that the IAF, which is operating MiG-29 aircraft is taking interest in MiG-35 - a completely new fighter as compared to the one fielded in the Indian MMRCA tender.
However, besides the flying platforms at MAKS- 2017, Russia also demonstrated a whole range of force multipliers and electronic warfare and countermeasures systems by Rostec companies KRET and Shvabe, which are closely cooperating with DRDO and IAF.
KRET ( Kontsern Radio- electronic Techologies) displayed its Khibini-M system mounted on the wing tips, which it claimed creates a protection bubble around the fighter for deep penetration strike in heavily defended areas, Russia’s asymmetrical response to stealth technology. Shvabe demonstrated an autonomously powered pod for providing a fighter plane the ground-attack capabilities with the use of smart bombs and expressed their readiness to offer their hi-tech products to India. Held back-to-back after Paris Air Show, MAKS-2017 did not see the deals to match its French rival, but organisers say that it surpassed the indicators of previous MAKS-2015 in terms of exposition and business programme.
PUTIN FLIES IN ON “RusAF ONE” TO INAUGURATE MAKS
Unlike in the past when President Vladimir Putin used to fly in a VVIP Mi-17 helicopter, this time he landed in his Ilyushin Il-96 aircraft also popularly known as ‘RusAF One’ to inaugurate the biennale show.
“The People of Russia have always been interested in the aviation development and space exploration. I can say straight away that it is a significant part of our common culture, and the history of national cosmonautics and aircraft engineering is our national pride…,” President Putin declared in his inaugural speech. After going through some pavilions sanitised in advance by the Kremlin security, President Putin traditionally bought an ice cream from a young lady vendor and fished out some money to pay for himself. He declined his old pal from Dresden days Rostec CEO Chemezov’s offer to pay for his ice cream.
According to the official website of MAKS, the volume of contracts and letters of intent reached the amount of RUB 394 billion (Over $5 billion) and the business potential of MAKS-2017 exceeded RUB 600 billion ($10 billion). During six days of Salon’s operation, more than 452 thousand visitors and guests visited the event and were able to observe the flights of eight aerobatic teams and 90 aircraft.
The largest transaction of the Salon included the firm contract for the supply of 20 Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft to Aeroflot—Russian Airlines and the contract for operative leasing of 16-21 aircraft to Red Wings.
Some reports suggest that 13th edition of MAKS was the last at Zhukovsky and from next time in 2019 it would move to Kubinka airbase (in close proximity to Moscow), being developed by the Russian Defence Ministry as a single defence expo location.
Rostec CEO Sergei Chemezov at a MAKS press conference (Below) HAL stall at the show
Latest version of MiG-35 on display; A Pak-Fa (T-50) in flight