Russia looks to Africa to grow exports


With over 600 Russian-built helicopters operating in Africa, Russia is keen to expand its repair and maintenance facilities on the continent.

Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, Alexander Fomin, says that Russia is interested in developing military and technical cooperation with South Africa, taking into account South Africa’s technological support base.

Fomin was speaking at the African Aerospace & Defence (AAD) exhibition being held at AFB Waterkloof.

At the previous AAD exhibition in September 2012, Russian Helicopters signed an agreement with Denel on the establishment of a regional service centre for Russian helicopters in the African region. The MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) centre was launched in March 2013.

The Russian aviation industry is looking to the supply of new and existing services, such as that for military helicopters. In addition, Russia is also interested in technical transfer and the joint production of light helicopters and missiles, wireless communications and radio equipment.

Furthermore, Fomin noted that the southern African region, including Angola and Mozambique, has a number of people skilled in servicing former-Soviet equipment.

Anatoly Isaykin, Director General of Rosoboronexport, the state agency for Russia’s exports/imports of defence-related products, technologies and services, revealed that Russian trade with sub-Sahara Africa totalled $1.7 billion during the 2013 and 2014 calendar years. A further 16 proposals are currently been pursued in the region, with work gradually increasing over that of previous years.

Referring specifically to South Africa, Fomin explained that while BRICS was not a military or political block, it did provide opportunity for defence cooperation amongst the member nations.

As all the nations had well-developed defence industries, Fomin gave an example of how Russia, Brazil and South Africa could work together to develop a new 5th-generation fighter or missiles.

On the civil front, the Ansat light multipurpose helicopter has very good prospects in southern Africa once marketing of the helicopter commences. This was the view Alexander Mikheev, Director General of Russian Helicopters.