Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promised more support for Russia’s aviation industry after overseeing more than $1 billion worth of deals at the country’s biggest airshow.
Putin watched the first public flight of the fifth-generation T-50 fighter at the MAKS airshow outside Moscow, as well as flights of mid-size regional plane Sukhoi Superjet.
“The state has supported and will support Russia’s aerospace industry. It is a strategic priority for us,” Putin told officials and industry executives in a speech, stressing that the government invested $9.5 billion in the industry in 2009-11, Reuters reports.
Russia is pinning its hopes on the Superjet, a plane designed to compete with Embraer and Bombardier (BBDb.TO), and T-50 fighter, which will rival F-22 “Raptor” made by Lockheed Martin and Boeing .
Another Russian-made passenger aircraft, the MS-21, is due to be ready for delivery in 2017 and is intended to replace the country’s ageing TU-154 planes.
Putin’s government aims to diversify Russia’s economy away from energy, which represents about half of budget revenues, and is keen to develop technology-heavy sectors such as aerospace and auto industry.
Putin is also keen to show the success of his government in replicating Soviet-era achievements in technology and defence ahead of a presidential election in March 2012 in which he says he may take part.
Russia has consolidated almost all aviation production and research assets, split and partly privatised in the 1990s, into a state-controlled United Aircraft Corporation despite resistance and criticism from some industry members.
“The consolidation of the aviation industry has been completed. This work has been long and difficult. Now all the enterprises that were integrated have clear vision of their future development,” Putin said.
Putin said that Russia was open to international cooperation in the aerospace industry and was ready to form alliances with leading international firms but would also help its companies to advance on the global market.
Putin oversaw several signing ceremonies including a deal to sell 10 Sukhoi Superjet-100 planes to Gazpromavia airlines and create a joint venture between French aerospace group Safran and Russian Technologies holding.