Denel Aviation and Russia’s Irkut Corporation today ceremonially signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) show, which will see Denel Aviation becoming a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) centre for Irkut’s wide range of aircraft, including fighter jets and commercial aircraft.
“We have been engaging with Irkut for some months now resulting in the signing of an agreement on cooperation signed at the Farnborough International Air Show in England in July,” said Denel Group CEO Riaaz Saloojee. He said today’s signing would take the relationship between the two companies “to a new and higher level.”
The agreement makes provision for the promotion of Irkut’s products in southern Africa, including its Yak-130 trainer and commercial MC-21 aircraft. It also covers the establishment of a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) centre at Denel Aviation and for industrial cooperation between the two companies.
“Denel Aviation has set itself the objective to strengthen its market position as the leading provider of MRO services in Africa. This means that we want to grow our capacity to service most of models and makes of rotary and fixed wing aircraft that are currently flying on the continent,” Saloojee stated.
“Our agreement with Irkut also demonstrates the benefits that are flowing from South Africa’s membership of the BRICS group of nations – most notably Brazil, Russia and India. It has opened up new markets for South African industry and presents us with an improved ability to participate in multinational projects and partnerships.
In addition to Irkut Denel will be signing two other agreements with major original equipment manufacturers from Eastern Europe this week and we have a long-standing partnership with Brazil on the development of the A-Darter air-to-air missile.
“These agreements will significantly broaden Denel Aviation’s footprint on the continent and position us as a reliable one-stop destination to maintain the bulk of the aircraft types flying in Africa.”
Saloojee thanked the Board and executive management of Irkut Corporation for their decision to enter into this relationship with Denel. The next step in the cooperation process will be to establish joint working groups to explore additional areas of cooperation between the two companies and identify the infrastructure that will be required at Denel Aviation’s facilities next to the O R Tambo International Airport in Kempton Park.
“I trust that this agreement, together with our other activities and exhibitions at AAD 2012 will clearly demonstrate that we have the skills, the know-how and the capacity to meet the aviation engineering needs of any country in Africa, making Denel an exceptional valuable partner in the global industry,” Saloojee concluded.
Irkut produces Su-27 and Su-30 fighter jets and Beriev amphibious aircraft, as well as Yak-130 combat trainers. The Yak-130 was designed to provide basic and advanced pilot training for Russian and foreign-made combat aircraft, including 4th+ and 5th generation fighters. The aircraft is fitted with an advanced glass cockpit and can carry 3 000 kg of weaponry.
The Yak-130 was chosen as the main aircraft for basic and advanced training of Russian Air Force pilots. Deliveries to the Russian Air Force, which expects to order an initial 72 aircraft, began in February 2010. In December last year the Russian defence ministry signed a contract with Irkut for 55 Yak-130s, which will be supplied to the Russian Air Force by 2015.
In 2006 Irkut signed a contract for 16 Yak-130s for the Algerian Air Force. Deliveries took place at the end of last year. Irkut estimates the market capacity for the Yak-130 is 250 aircraft between now and 2015.
Irkut is developing the MC-21 as a family of 150 to 210-passenger aircraft with first flight planned for 2015 and entry into service in 2017. The MC-21 is intended to compete with the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX, which use new generation engines and sharklets/winglets to achieve improved fuel efficiency. Irkut says its all-new design will result in lower procurement and operating costs, with 10% less fuel burn than the A320neo. It is slated to replace the Tupolev Tu-154 and Tupolev Tu-204/214 in service.
Irkut has 15% share of the Russian arms export, with an order book of approximately US$7 billion as of June this year. Over the past ten years the company’s revenue grew more than three times. Its core work includes exporting multi-role Su-30MK fighters, as well as Yak-130 combat trainers.