Major industry players come together to boost competitiveness in global marketplace worth potential $1 billion

Russian president Vladimir Putin has ordered the merger of two leading Russian air defence specialists, Almaz and Antei, uniting over 40 companies that develop and produce air defence systems.

The firms have won export orders worth $3 billion since 1994, and the merger is intended to improve the international competitiveness of Russian air defence systems and eliminate budgetary overruns on next generation systems.

Merging Almaz and Antei with Russia's third major air defence developer Defence Systems has been on the agenda for some time, but initial attempts were stalled by Almaz and Antei concerns over Defence Systems assuming the lead role in the new structure. Their alternative proposal for an Antei/ Almaz merger over three years was approved by Putin late last month.

It is still unclear at what stage Defence Systems will be absorbed. Established in 1994, it combines over 20 enterprises producing air defence systems, including missile developer Fakel, and has a total workforce of 15,000. Defence Systems' design department is working on the Pantsir and Feniks short-range air defence systems and S-125 (SA-3Goa) upgrade, the Pechora-2.

Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport sees an annual potential for Russian air defence systems of $1 billion. It also sees a large market for upgrade of the Almaz-developed S-75 (SA-2 Guideline), S-125 and S-200 (SA-5 Gammon), and Antei-designed Krug (SA-4 Ganef), Osa (SA-8 Gecko) and Tor-M1 (SA-15 Gauntlet) already in service with more than 30 nations. Targeting India and the Middle East, Almaz has developed an alternative S-125 upgrade - the Pechora, with better range and anti-jamming protection. A similar upgrade, the Volga-2A, is being developed for the S-75.

Almaz has completed development of the S-300PMU2 Favorit (SA-10 Grumble) with Fakel 48N6E and 48N6E2 missiles instead of the 55V5 missiles used in the S-300P system. The Russian air force plans to upgrade its in-service S-300P-series systems to the Favorit, with first deliveries later this year. The air force says a new missile system is being tested, able to defeat targets travelling at 9,300kt (17,200km/h).

Source: Flight International