We had a talk with Mr. Alexander Krasovitsky the Director General of Russia’s Military-Industrial Company (MIC) makers of a wide range of world-class armoured vehicles.
How has your company fared with the coronavirus outbreak?
Our company is successfully coping with the situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We did not stop our enterprises and we did not reduce the amount of work, and now our subsidiaries are functioning in normal mode. Of course, we have taken all possible measures to prevent cases of coronavirus infection among our employees. Moreover, in the midst of the pandemic, in the shortest time possible we have developed new models of armored vehicles.
At the same time, in addition to upgrading the existing TIGR family special armored vehicles, two prototypes of the brand new family of Strela light armored vehicles were developed and assembled. One of them is built in the configuration of an amphibious protected vehicle. Against the background of the pandemic, we have developed six new models of wheeled armored vehicles, including the modernized BTR-82AT armored personnel carrier with a remotely operated weapon station (ROWS).
All of these new vehicles were showcased at the Army 2020 international military-technical forum held in August in Kubinka near Moscow. Several platforms subsequently took part in the Caucasus 2020 strategic exercise, demonstrating their high capabilities.
What next-generation solutions is your company offering to African clients?
We are ready to promote the full spectrum of our products to African customers. Of course, the company is ready to offer the new products, such as the VPK-Ural MRAP armored vehicle, the Strela light armored vehicle, the export-oriented variant of the Atlet (Athlete) armored vehicle, and, of course, the new modifications of the TIGR (Tiger) special armored vehicle with both left-hand and right-hand driving controls.
Moreover, we are ready to fit our armored vehicles with additional options at the request of a customer. This list comprises another engine, an automatic transmission, an additional armor package, and a ROWS. We always serve the needs of our customers and try to fully meet their requirements and wishes.
It must be noted, that we supply the products of our company to foreign partners in conjunction with Rosoboronexport, which celebrated its 20th anniversary on November 4. It is the only state intermediary in Russia for the export and import of the entire range of military and dual-use products, technologies and services.
What have been your challenge so far in penetrating the African defense market?
Struggling for the African market, we have to face a number of challenges. One of them has political background and is associated with the unfair competition, namely, all kinds of economic sanctions imposed against Russia.
In recent years, another factor appeared: many fresh companies have begun manufacturing wheeled armored vehicles (often having no required competencies).
They enter the African market and dump prices, while the quality and reliability of the promoted equipment, to put it in mild words, are far from perfect.
Regarding the proliferation of low-cost Chinese armored vehicles, how does your company intend to compete with China in Africa?
In this case, there is only one way – to offer to the market high-quality armored vehicles. One should take into account that the armored vehicles of passable quality produced in China will not differ in price from our platforms. Moreover, the quality and reliability of our vehicles are higher. I would note that during the trials for the acceptance of the vehicles by Russia’s uniformed services, our pieces of equipment complete the tests that no foreign vehicle can pass through.
It should be mentioned that we now offer more than just an armored vehicle or an armored personnel carrier. We promote a package that includes an armored vehicle, training of the specialists, warranty and after-sales support. At the same time, we are seriously working on optimizing prices for our products by introducing new production system and innovative technologies at our enterprises.
In the next few fiscal years, how will your company’s handle the need to phase out legacy platforms to make room for new modern equipment?
The issue of phasing out old vehicles should be worked out by their owners. The tempo and efficiency of this process will depend on desire to get rid of equipment that has exhausted its life span, has come into a faulty state, or is morally obsolete. We can help them, and there are different options in this field. It is possible to modernize such vehicles, and they will meet modern technical requirement for another 10-15 years.
We have off-the-shelf programs for the modernization of the obsolete equipment. The advantage of this approach is that, in this case, it does not require large expenditures compared with the procurement of brand new equipment. Moreover, a customer can choose himself (depending on his financial capabilities) the scale of modernization.
Of course, we will offer both scrapping of old vehicles and the supply of new hardware to replace them.
At the same time, depending on the tasks of the law enforcement agencies of a particular country, we will offer products appropriate for such purposes. Anyway, the decision is to be taken by the customer.
Does your company intend to tap into the maintenance opportunities for armored vehicles in Africa?
We are in touch with the customers from all countries, to which we have delivered our equipment. We carry out warranty and after-sales support post-warranty service for the equipment supplied by our company and provide spare parts and expendables. Our African customers are no exception in this sense.
In most cases, we implement repairs and maintenance of the equipment by field teams at a customer’s facilities. But in this case, there are some conditions: not dispatching our maintenance teams to combat zones; maintaining the safety of the specialists.
As budgets across Africa are dropping in FY20 and beyond, how might the acquisition process continue to reform to find savings or streamline processes?
We have recently worked out various payment schemes for the supply of our vehicles. Depending on the case, they can be changed in order to create favorable conditions for the customer.
Discuss what you believe the Armies in Africa needs to be successful in their various counter-terror operations.
This very question – What do the armies of Africa need to be successful in their various counter-terror operations – has a hint for the answer – various weapons and military equipment, including the armored wheeled vehicles. Since such vehicles have high operational and tactical maneuverability, then, undoubtedly, they should be the basis of forces and means intended to fight the terrorism. But depending on the landscape and geographical features of the country, where such operations are to be carried out, the composition of terrorist forces, the needs of such equipment and its specific characteristics and capabilities will be determined. Our specialists together with Rosoboronexport will always help our customers to make their choice.
Do you expect an uptick in military sales to African countries after the coronavirus outbreak?
We forecast such an uptick, and there are several factors. First, the terrorist threat is not weakening against the backdrop of a pandemic, but on the contrary, it only increases. The terrorism is not to be coped with bare hands. The leaders of the African states must fight terrorists with well-equipped and trained formations that are capable of effectively conducting various combat missions.
This process will require funds; it will be necessary to look for these funds, otherwise terrorists will find them.
Another reason for the projected growth in military spending is the moral and technical aging of weapons and military equipment. Such equipment is fairly widespread in African countries. Whether you want it or not, it needs either to be modernized or replaced by new equipment.
There’s a strong demand from African leaders to reinvest in their country’s defense industrial base. How do you intend to respond?
We are ready for any cooperation with African countries. One of the options for such cooperation is investing and the opening of joint ventures at a customer’s territory, where the equipment designed by us will be produced.
At first, these can be enterprises for the SKD assembly of our vehicles from the supplied vehicle kits. Then a customer will be assisted with the localization of spare parts, components and systems. This is truly mutually beneficial cooperation and we are ready for it.
For more information contact: Mr. Sergey Suvorov, Head of Media Relations and Advertising of MIC (email@example.com)