180330 Mig29 106Russia is practicing double standards on issues regarding ex-Soviet aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), in an attempt to muscle Ukraine out of the global aircraft MRO market. Russian claims against Ukrainian exporters of ex-Soviet aircraft MRO services are legally worthless, Valery Riabykh, business development manager at Defense Express Media & Consulting Company, Kyiv, has said.


Asked by Interfax-Ukraine to comment on reports by defense industry insiders that some customer countries have changed their respective tender specifications regarding the procurement of aircraft MRO services amidst allegations by Russian defense industrial authorities that Ukrainian companies are not legally authorized to provide MRO services on ex-Soviet aircraft, the expert said, “The actions by the Russian party – obviously aimed to drive out competitors from the marketplace by claiming that [the provision of MRO services] is an exclusive privilege of the Designer entity only -- are questionable".


“Ukrainian defense industries hold all the required and necessary MRO Manuals for the aircraft that were designed and developed by companies based in Russia -- MiG, Su, Il, Mi,” he said, and added, “MRO licenses for these types of aircraft were obtained in full compliance with procedures required in the former USSR, and the licenses were obtained along with copies of relevant manuals and blueprints. These licenses cannot be revoked, nor are there any legal grounds for additional licensing".


Additionally, Mr Riabykh noted that matters of regulation of a state-run aviation sector, including the defense aviation sector, are within the jurisdiction of authorized government agencies in various countries operating the aircraft.


"A country operating an aircraft can set its own rules and make changes to the design of the aircraft. The rules of the game are set by the operator - the Ministry of Defense – who assumes responsibility for certification and monitoring the operational safety of the aircraft," the expert said.


He gave a few examples of how countries deal with modernizing their legacy fleets of ex-Soviet military aircraft. Poland, for example, developed, certified and fielded its own upgrade for its fleet of MiG-29 fighters without asking for permission from the Russian Designer, while Bulgaria still has problems searching for suitable solutions, he said.


"The Russian Federation definitely has double standards on this matter; it picked up and authorized its own state-run R&D institutions and organizations to provide in-service support and MRO for its fleet of Antonov transports, but refused cooperation with the Ukrainian designer of the An family of aircraft – the State Company Antonov.


"According to the ICAO rules, an aircraft user state can make changes to the design of the aircraft where there are adequate R&D, technological and manufacturing capabilities, while simultaneously it would assume responsibility for ensuring safe operation", Mr Riabykh said.


To boost its position on the EU/NATO arms market, Ukraine should more actively advertise the capabilities of its ex-Soviet aircraft MRO industries and make potential customers see that it has all the valid licenses and competences required for the job.


"It would also make sense to discuss with our Western allies the absurdity of continuing cooperation in military technology between NATO countries and a potential adversary like Russia, particularly as it concerns the possibility for Russian aircraft MRO providers to use some technological tricks to prevent effective operation of the aircraft by member countries of the alliance," the military expert said.


Aircraft MRO services currently represent about 30% of Ukraine’s total defense exports.



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