Established in 2002, Almaz-Antey Concern specializing in production of air defense missile systems has managed to bring together all the Russian defense companies involved in production and development of air defense systems and various radio aids.
By Pavel Rumyantsev
For now, Almaz-Antey is one of the biggest corporations of the Russian defense industry and includes 57 enterprises, design bureaus, and R&D institutes. According to the Russian Government Executive Order dated May 6, 2015, the concern was renamed into the “Aerospace Defense Concern “Almaz-Antey”.
Retrofitting the air defense missile forces, radio-technical troops and army air defense forces has become one of the top priorities in the Russian State Arms Program. Almaz-Antey Concern companies solely have to bear the burden in order to implement part of the state defense order related to air defense. The scope of work to be completed by 2020 is really enormous. For instance, by 2020 armed forces will have received 56 S-400 surface-to-air missile system battalions, 38 newest S-350 medium-range AA system battalions, over 100 Pantsir-S1 short-range AA missile systems plus a vast amount of other types of anti-aircraft systems and air defense aids. Moreover, all the radio-technical troops shall be fully retrofitted. In addition to the state defense order requirements, the Concern has a great stock of orders from different foreign countries. That is why the Concern companies now have 100% workload. Production of new AA missile systems and radar systems, modernization of exciting air defense aids and development of advanced aerospace defense systems are currently in progress on continuing basis.
At the end of the last decade, Almaz-Antey faced the problem related to the lack of production capacities due to a large scope of work. This problem mostly affects the production of S-400 AA missile systems because the Concern has failed to ensure output rates required by the Russian Ministry of Defense despite the fact that no insufficient funds problems have occurred. That is why the decision to build two new plants for the Concern in Kirov and Nizhny Novgorod was taken in 2011. Note, the new plants are being constructed next to the existing plants – Avitec Plant (the city of Kirov) that has a full production cycle for manufacturing AA missile systems, and Nizhny Novgorod Machine Building Plant (NMZ) also specializing in the same field. This decision allows to minimize costs for construction of new plants, using the existing infrastructure to the maximum and to reduce the construction period. At the same time, the modernization and retrofitting of the Avitec Plant is on its way along with the establishment of the so-called North-West Regional Center for the Concern in Saint-Petersburg. This project stipulates an association of five big concern companies located in the territory of the famous Obukhovsky Plant – Obukhovsky Machine-Building Plant (Obukhovsky State Plant), Radio-Technical Equipment Plant, Special Machine-Building Design Bureau, Russian Institute of Radionavigation and Time and All-Russian Research Institute of Radio Equipment. Meanwhile, Obukhovsky Plant is upgrading and building its new production facilities at full speed. Almaz-Antey provides all its new and reconstructed plants with the most advanced equipment. For example, the plant in Nizhny Novgorod will be able to produce printed-circuit boards with the highest 5th accuracy class.
Now, all the above-mentioned plants are undergoing the final construction phase. In fact, Almaz-Antey has completed the new plant in Nizhny Novgorod, which is expected to be launched at the end of 2015. In 2016, this plant is going to produce its first AA missile systems Commissioning these new production facilities will ensure Almaz-Antey Concern a giant leap to enhance its production capabilities. Even the implementation of the North-West Regional Center project will allow to increase the production output over 2 times in comparison to the 2010 output figures.
It is clear that launching new plants will cause a significant increase in output rates for the S-400 AA missile systems. This means that the Concern is very likely to meet the state defense order requirements for these systems by 2020. For example, in 2016 the Concern is already planning to put into service five S-400 AA missile system regiments at a time. This will allow to increase the number of air defense regiments equipped with this weapon system up to 16. These regiments will include at least 33 air defense battalions equipped with an unprecedented number of the S-400 AA missile systems. To compare, in 2015 Almaz-Antey put into service three regiments. Therefore, we can estimate an effect on the procurement of the armed forces with air defense systems and equipment due to the commissioning of new plants operated by Almaz-Antey.
Meanwhile, these measures will also allow to launch the production and procurement of the newest S-500 Vityaz medium-range AA missile system, which has already passed the official acceptance tests. The Vityaz AA missile systems are intended to replace the old Buk-M1 air defense systems and part of the S-300PS systems. Apparently, we can expect higher rates and effectiveness of modernization of the existing S-300 AA missile system family. Commissioning new plants will also allow to reduce the cost of final products due to decreased production costs. These new plants are very likely to start production of future air defense systems, for example, the next-generation S-500 anti-air missile system.
It’s most likely that in the nearest future we will observe a more intense reinforcement of the Russian air defense system and its breakthrough to the absolutely new level along with full protection of the most significant operational areas. In case of any threatening situation that may trigger an armed conflict, any potential enemy should think twice before taking any aggressive actions, being aware that its own air forces will have to face the most advanced and powerful air defense system in depth, literally the best one in the world. Such aggression will definitely cause heavy casualties for the enemy’s air forces irrespective of their level of quality.
In addition to the scope of work to be completed to meet the state defense order requirements, these new plants will ensure an increase in export, particularly, of the S-400 AA missile systems. First foreign buyers of these AA missile systems will be Belarus and Kazakhstan, the closest allies of Russia. India and China are also striving for purchase of these systems.
Recent events, such as the NATO air operations in Libya in 2011 have made many countries be concerned about retrofitting of their national air defense forces with new systems that are able to protect against threats from advanced air assault weapons. In this respect, Russian air defense systems are still the world’s best and strongest weapon systems that surpass any foreign equivalents in terms of performance and combat capabilities while Russia is the only country, which produces all types of AA missile systems, i.e. short-, medium-, and long-range missile systems. The most important fact is that while featuring the highest combat capabilities and quality, Russian AA missile systems are available in the market at a significantly lower price in comparison to their foreign counterparts (with lower combat capabilities). All these advantages make the Almaz-Antey products very attractive for dozens of foreign countries while the Concern has a long waiting list of customers – foreign customers’ orders have already been scheduled up to 2030. Note that the number of foreign customers’ orders is constantly growing and it is very likely to grow further.
It is evident that in the future Almaz-Antey Aerospace Defense Concern will be able not only to defend, but also to strengthen its status as the leading manufacturer of air defense systems that will always protect the peaceful sky above us.