Russian military leadership does not rule out the possibility that IL-76 MFs will be assembled in Uzbekistan
The Tashkent Aircraft Manufacturer named after Valery Chkalov is given a chance. The decision to shift assembly of IL-76 transports from Uzbekistan to Russia hasn't been made yet. Two senior officials of the Russian state confirm indirectly that it may never be made.
General of the Army Aleksei Moskovsky, Chief of the Armaments of the Russian Armed Forces, told Feghana.Ru the other day that the decision to shift assembly of the planes to Russia hadn't been made. "I wouldn't speak of any dates," Moskovsky said. "The Ulianovsk Aircraft Manufacturer (Aviastar) is developing facilities for assembly of this type of planes too. Needless to say, the process is going to take time and will be quite expensive. So far as I know, the Economic Development Ministry and Industry and Fuel Ministry have included these costs in their investment programs. All the same, the process will take a great deal of investments and time. Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov visited the factory not long ago [this summer - Ferghana.Ru]. This was one of the matters discussed during the visit."
It follows that IL-76 military transport planes and their modifications may eventually be assembled both in Uzbekistan and in Russia. That Moscow views the Tashkent Aircraft Manufacturer as a partner assembling IL-76s is also confirmed by the words of Alexander Denisov of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation at Airshow China'2006.
Answering the question about the IL-76 contract with China, Denisov admitted existence of problems but said that "these problems will be solved and the contract will be fulfilled on time." Since the factory in Tashkent is the only one at this point where IL-76s are assembled, it follows that this is where the contract will be fulfilled. Spokesmen for the Russian aviation industry were upset not long ago that the Tashkent Aircraft Manufacturer was behind the schedule with the Chinese contract for 38 IL-76s and IL-78s flying tankers worth almost $1.5 billion. Aware of the danger to the contract, the Russians began speculating over transfer of IL production from Tashkent to Ulianovsk. It seems that Moscow changed its mind.
Uzbek and Russian leaders must have drawn conclusions. Some personnel changes took place. Russia dispatched a large group of specialists to Tashkent to help the Uzbeks with the Chinese contract. President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov (he had worked at the Tashkent Aircraft Manufacturer in the past) sacked Vadim Kucherov, General Director of the Tashkent Aircraft Manufacturer since 1995. Kucherov was replaced with Utkir Sultanov, one of the most powerful men in the president's inner circle. Advisor to the prime minister, Sultanov himself was a deputy premier once in charge of mechanical engineering, metallurgy, oil and gas complex, development of deposits, energy sphere, chemical industry, and contacts with the Russian military-industrial complex. In fact, Sultanov had been the prime minister between 1995 and 2003. Known as a seasoned administrator, he is probably believed capable of fulfillment of the Chinese contract.
Staff changes, however, cannot be expected to solve all problems of the Tashkent Aircraft Manufacturer. If it is to survive, the Uzbek factory will probably have to be integrated into the United Aircraft Company Russia is putting together. Moscow and Tashkent ponder the idea. The price of the factory privatization is the only issue Russia and Uzbekistan seem to be unable to reach an agreement on.
Ferghana.Ru news agency