Bengaluru: Offering a plethora of defence equipment — from medium transport multipurpose aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles to loitering kamikaze drones — Ukraine is looking to increase its presence in India, said the country’s defence industry head.
In an interview to ThePrint, Yuriy Husyev, director-general of state-owned conglomerate UkrOboronProm, said, “We want to do more with India. During Aero India, we have had good discussions with the defence minister, chiefs of the Navy and the Army besides the Deputy Chief of the Indian Air Force. We are excited about the opportunities that are there for Ukraine and India to cooperate.”
UkrOboronProm is Ukraine’s defence conglomerate that brings together more than 100 defence enterprises from the country under a single roof.
At present, the biggest ongoing defence cooperation between the two countries is the upgrade of nearly 100 AN-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force by Ukrainian firm Antonov.
India has also procured gas turbine engines from Ukraine to power many Navy vessels.
Last month, ThePrint had reported that India procured the gas turbine engines from Ukraine and handed them to Russia to install them on the Admiral Grigorovich-class guided-missile stealth frigates that are being made for the Indian Navy by a Russian shipyard as part of a $2.5 billion deal.
According to Husyev, the defence ministers of India and Ukraine will meet later this year in New Delhi as part of a Joint Working Group and carry forward talks on defence cooperation.
“We want to have strong cooperation in the aerospace industry and we are now in the process of negotiation with IAF and Indian partners,” he told ThePrint at Aero India 2021, which concluded Friday.
Despite Covid, an 80-member delegation from Ukraine had come to India for the event.
“We have signed agreements valued at more than USD 70 million during Aero India,” Husyev said, adding that the agreements were for new weapons and maintenance of existing Ukrainian systems in the Indian defence inventory.
Transport aircraft, unmanned aerial systems in focus
According to Husyev, Ukraine is keen to offer India its multi-purpose medium transport aircraft, N-178.
He said the aircraft can carry a maximum payload of 18 tonnes and fly a distance of up to 5,000 km at a cruising latitude of 12,200 metres and speed of up to 825 km per hour.
“We have signed state agreements between Antonov and the Ukrainian defence ministry for the aircraft. We understand that it should be a good potential project for Indian and Asian partners,” he said.
Aside from this, Ukraine has also been focusing on unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and anti-unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).
Their PD-2 range of unmanned aerial systems and the RAM 11 combat loitering UAS are on offer, according to Husyev.
He noted that fully loaded systems of the two with a 4-kg warhead can operate in a range of 30 km and can complete both surveillance and combat missions.
“We understand that drones are not only the future of battlefield but are also the present. There are some proposals with Indian partners for unmanned aerial systems. We understand that we have good products,” he said.
Husyev added: “We have a strong potential for cooperation in radars, UAVs and anti-drones besides missile systems.”
When asked about potentially manufacturing the systems in India, the top Ukrainian official noted that some of the products are manufactured by private firms and everything else depends on the negotiations.
He further highlighted that the interest shown for Ukrainian products in Aero India confirmed their expectations that there was a strong scope for various partnerships between the two countries.
“We have had some talks with the services about projects and your Make in India. We understand there is potential. That is why we have come here,” Husyev said.