Croatian MiG overhaul unaffected by Crimean crisis

17 March 2014
An infographic showing Ukrainian defence industrial facilities located in Crimea. Source: IHS

The overhaul and procurement of 12 Croatian Air Force MiG-21 'Fishbed' fighters in Crimea is continuing "without problems", a spokesperson for the Croatian Ministry of Defence (MoD) told IHS Jane's on 13 February.

Seven MiG-21bis 'Fishbed-L' aircraft were sent to Ukrainian state-owned arms exporter Ukrspecexport for repair and overhaul in late 2013, with a further five refurbished platforms being procured from Ukroboronprom SE Odessa Aviation Plant in Crimea for delivery later in 2014.

"The overhaul is [being] carried out without problems, regardless of the political situation," the Croatian MoD said, adding that work on the first five aircraft has nearly been completed; with just the navigation systems waiting to be delivered from Czech company Ceska Letecka Servisni (CLS). Deliveries back to Croatia are set to run through to mid-2014.

The Croatian MoD's comments are in line with those of the general director of Ukroboronprom State Enterprise (SE), Sergiy Gromov, who on 3 March stated that the crisis with Russia would have no adverse effect on the ability of the Ukrainian defence industry to meet its international contractual obligations.

"All [Ukroboronprom SE] enterprises located in Crimea are working in normal regime with the observance of all standard manufacturing processes," he said at the time, adding, "I draw attention of our foreign colleagues that, in spite of the tension in the country, all signed contracts [Ukroboronprom SE] will fulfil in time and in a proper quality. Ukroboronprom has been, is, and will continue to be a reliable representative of Ukraine in the area of military and technical co-operation."

However, both Gromov's the Croatian MoD's comments were made before the Crimean referendum on 17 March which looks set to be the precursor for union with Russia. With the Ukroboronprom SE Odessa Aviation Plant being located in Crimea, it is not yet clear how, or if, this vote might affect the Croatian MiG-21 work. The MoD had not responded to a further request for comment at IHS Jane's time of writing.

The Crimean region is home to 13 industrial defence organisations managed by Ukroboronprom SE, and so any Russian annexation of the territory would likely have far reaching effects beyond those of the Croatian MiG-21 overhaul contract.

Aside from Crimea's defence industry, both Ukraine and Russia are linked through the co-development of the Antonov An-70 transport aircraft, as well as the supply of engines for the Yakovlev Yak-130 'Mitten' jet trainer aircraft, the Mi-26 'Halo' heavy-lift helicopter, and the Beriev Be-200 amphibious aircraft. Ukrainian firm JSC Motor Sich also provides the powerplants for platforms manufactured by Russian Helicopters, and the Russian Black Sea Fleet is reliant on a number of Crimean and Ukrainian shipyards for support and equipment.

On 11 March (again, ahead of the Crimean referendum), Pavel Dorokhin, a Russian State Duma deputy and Deputy Chairman of the State Duma committee on Industry, announced that Russia is to invest RUB40 billion (USD1 billion) in Crimea's industry. "This primarily refers to the support of enterprises associated with the defence industry, machine-building, and the maintenance of ships, including the ships of the Russian Black Sea fleet," he said.

Ukraine currently has about 200 programmes and programme elements that are sourced from Russia to the value of USD138 million per year (out of Ukraine's total procurement spend of about USD500 million), and it remains to be seen what effect the ongoing crisis in the region might have on this co-operation.

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