During the meeting, a contract for the Defence Ministry's purchase of the Il-76MD-90A transport aircraft was signed in the President's presence.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, friends,
I have every reason to thank and congratulate the chief designer, plant director and the entire team who worked hard to achieve this stage in the creation of a new Russian transport aircraft. Today we witnessed the final phase of the project.
As you know, Ulyanovsk Aviation Plant was one of the youngest enterprises in the Soviet time: it had barely began operating in the late 1980s — early 1990s when it closed down again. Attempts were made to organise the production of buses and some other things, and in 2003 the plant employed 1,500 people, most of whom were engaged mainly in protecting the industrial facilities and the territory.
It was around 2005 when we focused our efforts on the plant and the question arose if it was possible to create here a new Russian transport aircraft on the basis of IL-76. Long negotiations ensued with our friends and partners in Uzbekistan since the aircraft’s final assembly was done at the Tashkent plant in the Soviet period, but unfortunately, we did not reach agreement for economic reasons and made the final decision to launch production at the Ulyanovsk plant.
”A key challenge is the thorough modernisation of the entire aviation industry, both civil and military which includes personnel training, renewing testing and manufacturing infrastructure, developing the full chain of auxiliary production facilities to manufacture hardware components and prospective materials, including composites.“
Practical work began in 2006 but it took us six years to get the new plane up in the air. Once again, I congratulate all of you, both the veteran workers, and the plant already has such employees, and young professionals who joined the company in recent years.
What we saw here today, the event we all witnessed was more than just the flight of a newly restored aircraft. Over 70% of IL-76 has been modernised, and the result is essentially a new aircraft with a qualitatively higher performance, reliability, range, cost effectiveness and cargo capacity, which has increased by 20 tons.
I want to emphasise that there is a truly great demand for IL-476. We started negotiations six years ago with our partners in some Asian countries, including China. I think they were ready to buy 38 – up to 50 aircraft. I am sure that there will be great demand for this aircraft in our country and abroad. The plant will get a solid list of orders, which is why we have invited not only Government members here today, not only technology manufacturers, but also all potential customers.
I am confident that our foreign partners will show an interest in this aircraft. Our key customers will include the Russian Armed Forces, state agencies and local aircraft companies. We agreed that a contract is to be signed today on the purchase of 39 aircraft by the Defence Ministry for a total of almost 140 billion rubles. I want to note that this is the largest order in the Russian aviation industry in all of its short history.
This is the first new aircraft the Russian aviation industry has produced in the past 21 years. I congratulate you once again and ask you to sign the contract I have just mentioned.
Signing of contract.
Vladimir Putin: [Defence Minister] Mr Serdyukov demonstrated a good example to all potential clients. I hope our colleagues present here will also follow this example. I will address the subject in more detail.
Of course, we have some major, serious work ahead to fulfil the signed contract, and I expect it will be duly and timely implemented, therefore particular attention must be given to resolving all issues concerning the launch of the serial production of the new aircraft which requires staff and production facilities to be ready for such production.
For our part, we will provide the necessary assistance to the Finance Ministry and the Defence Ministry. Instructions will be given to ensure issue of state guarantees to the enterprise for undertaking serial deliveries of the Il-476 airplane.
No doubt, a key challenge is the thorough modernisation of the entire aviation industry, both civil and military which includes personnel training, renewing testing and manufacturing infrastructure, developing the full chain of auxiliary production facilities to manufacture hardware components and prospective materials, including composites.
This is why it is so important for the enormous resources we are channelling toward the armament programme and the development of the military-industrial complex in Russia to have a cumulative, systemic effect, allowing us to create a truly global, competitive aviation industry. You all know quite well that the competition in this sector, in global aviation, is very fierce.
”Russia must certainly maintain a strong aviation sector overall. This is required to guarantee our security and our technological sovereignty. In equipping our Armed Forces and other state agencies, we will rely primarily on Russian manufacturers.“
But so far, there is in fact no one aside from ourselves and our American partners who is producing such aircraft. The Europeans are planning to build an aircraft that seems to be essentially based on the An-70, but its loadbearing capacity will be 20 tonnes less. Still, they have not produced it yet; they are just planning to do so. And so, there is currently no one aside from Russia and the US building such planes.
Russia must certainly maintain a strong aviation sector overall. This is required to guarantee our security and our technological sovereignty. I repeat: in equipping our Armed Forces and other state agencies, we will rely primarily on Russian manufacturers.
This summer, we had detailed discussions on issues of organising deliveries of new military aviation technology to the army and navy. Today, we will talk about designing the state order for civil and specialised aircraft which will meet the needs of the Defence Ministry, Emergencies Ministry, Interior Ministry, the FSB, and other agencies and ministries. Such aircraft include transport, medical and fire-fighting aviation, airplanes that are used in emergencies for cargo transportation, humanitarian assistance, transporting wounded and sick individuals.
Currently, a significant proportion of the existing fleet of these airplanes is outdated morally, technologically and physically. By 2018, overall, we will have to retire some 80 aircraft. So now, we are to carefully plan the programme for renewing our air fleet, with an eye toward the future: what airplanes, of what class and in what quantity the country will need.
We should put together a common – I want to stress this – a common, consolidated state procurement order for Russian-made civil and transportation aircraft. And we must take this approach, because we fully understand that if we do not have such a consolidated order, it will be practically impossible for companies to launch production to the fullest extent; it will be impossible to ever build things serially – the financial factors won’t allow it. They require a stable order for several years. It is precisely that approach which will allow for companies to be engaged in rhythmic, efficient work and have the opportunity to plan long-term technological development programmes and cut costs.