By Anthony Bell
Russia’s Rosoboronexport arms exporter, a subsidiary of state corporation Rostec, unveiled air and land systems, which have been successfully used during the operation in Ukraine, at the recent ADEX 2022 defence show held in Baku, Azerbaijan, earlier this month from September 6-8.
The Russian pavilion saw the demonstration of Ilyushin Il-76MD-90A(E) heavy airlifter, Sukhoi Su-35 super maneuverable multirole combat aircraft, Kamov Ka-52E combat-reconnaissance helicopter, Mil Mi-35M combat-transport helicopter, BMPT Terminator fire support vehicle, the upgraded Msta-S self-propelled howitzer chambered for 155 mm STANAG artillery rounds, Buk-M2E surface-to-air missile system, and Khrizantema-S self-propelled anti-tank guided missile system.
It seems rather obvious that the special military operation in Ukraine has dramatically increased the interest of potential foreign customers in Russian-made defence hardware. Despite the fact that since the beginning of the operation on 27 February, the Russian authorities have strictly limited releases of information from this theater of operations, many potential foreign customers have been able to evaluate the effectiveness of the Russian weapon systems using available materials. Besides that, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has demonstrated footage of operational use of the Russian-made armaments through state-owned TV-channels on a regular basis.
Some weapon systems, for instance, the Kalibr (Caliber) sea-launched cruise missiles or the Kinzhal (Dagger) hypersonic air-launched missiles are not on the list of the export-oriented systems available for export; nevertheless, most of the platforms being operated in Ukraine can be exported.
It stands to reason that the operational use of a wide range of weapon systems in Ukraine has resulted in the modernisation of these armaments. One could suppose that all cutting-edge weapon systems, which are now passing through adoption processes, are being operationally evaluated during the operation in Ukraine, as there is no test at the range that is capable of creating a combat environment and demonstrating not-so-obvious technical issues of defense hardware.
The same situation was in Syria, when the Russian MoD demanded that manufacturers upgrade a range of weapon systems, many of which have export-oriented variants, on the basis of their operational use. Moreover, the counter-terrorism operation of the Russian Armed Forces allowed approbation of more than 600 defense systems, including those being adopted.
During the operation in Syria, the developers and representatives of the manufacturers always were at the theater of operations, noted all discovered issues and disadvantages, introduced changes to the technical terms of reference, modernizing the systems, and sent them back to the military to be tested again.
There is no doubt that this process positively influenced the development of Russian-made defence hardware moreover, it strengthened Russia’s export capabilities. Many systems that had demonstrated positive results in Syria and had not been popular in the global arms market became demanded and highly-sought. It seems obvious that the operation in Ukraine may bring the same result to Russia’s defence hardware exporters.
It is not by chance that during the ADEX 2022 defence show Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) announced that “the special operation in Ukraine has dramatically increased the interest of foreign partners in Russian weapons; they had one more chance to see the high quality, reliability, robustness, and maintainability of Russian-made defence systems.”
At the same, the Western military assistance, which is being supplied to Ukraine in large quantities and with no control over it, leads to foot dragging of the conflict and increases losses. The structure of this assistance speaks for the fact that the Western countries aim at the infliction of maximum human losses to Ukraine, not at “the rearmament of the country’s military” as officially declared.
It seems logical that the Western countries make room for acquisition of new defense hardware through the deliveries of aging arms to Ukraine. Therefore, the lives of the Ukrainians are a kind of «collateral damage» in this game. Moreover, large quantities of weapons being sent to Ukraine in emergency and under almost no control pose a threat to the whole world – these armaments may be uncontrollably operated in various hot spots (for instance, those in Nigeria, Syria, or Kashmir), threatening the civilians.
Ukraine received no less than 7,000 man-portable air defence systems – each weapon of the type is capable of posing a substantial threat to civil airliners. Let alone small arms, which are uncontrollably shipped to Ukraine; who knows the final destination point of those weapons after the conflict?
According to the FSMTC, every military conflict is being thoroughly studied by the experts. Along with tactics, they study the effectiveness of operated hardware, including firepower, survivability, maintainability, robustness, etc. Considering this fact, the service suggests, the results of the operation in Ukraine are set to dramatically increase the interest in Russian-made defence hardware in the global arms market.
The author is an independent military analyst.
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