The Russian government is to scrap restrictions limiting participation by Western companies in aerospace joint ventures with Russian firms, including defence companies, says Alexander Brindikov, deputy minister for industry, science and technology.

"Amendments are being prepared now to lift legislative restrictions regarding strategic aircraft building enterprises," Brindikov said at the Twenty-First Century High Technologies international forum in Moscow.

"We believe the presence of Western companies within Russian enterprises may be considerably expanded, which will make it possible to improve the investment climate for the military-industrial complex," Brindikov added. He did not say when the restrictions would be lifted.

In 2003, Eurocopter pulled out of the Euromil joint venture to produce the Mi-38 helicopter, after nearly 10 years' work with Russian partners, because Russian legislation enacted in 1998 caps foreign ownership at 25% and prohibits foreigners from using executive and managerial functions. Eurocopter was also blocked from sharing intellectual property rights to the Mi-38 despite having helped design the cockpit and avionics.

Brindikov's comments may represent a change in government thinking on financing the aerospace sector. Only last year, he attacked private businesses moving into the defence sector, saying they posed a threat to state security and could not save the cash-strapped industry on their own.

Brindikov cited the role of Italian manufacturer Finmeccanica (which has worked with Russia on the Yak-130 training aircraft) and EADS as examples of successful co-operation with Western enterprises in the military industrial sphere.

Source: Flight International