12032018 indiaIt is not a secret that India is a one of the main partner for Ukraine in the Asian defence market. Ukrainian defence enterprises widely represented in the marketplace of this country. However, the potential of the Indian defense cooperation does not use entirely. About military technology cooperation between India and Ukraine and features of the interior market the correspondent of Defense Express had talked with Admiral Ravinder Mohan BHATIA (Retd).


- Ukraine is India's long-standing partner in the area of military technology cooperation. Would you give your opinion about the cooperation, especially as it concerns the export of weapons of components from Ukraine to India’s Armed Forces?

As you know India had a very deep cooperation with erstwhile Soviet Union (SU). As a result a considerable part of Armed Forces weapons, equipments, defense systems are from USSR. At that time Ukraine was hub as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) supplier for Marine, Airspace and Land Systems. When the Soviet Union was disintegrated, Russia continued to be main supplier of finished products. Later, after Ukraine independence, India became one of the first few countries to open its embassy in Kyiv, showing its interest in Ukraine for cooperation in various areas


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For Indian Navy Ukraine is important because of its manufacturers of gas turbine engines, which are the heart of the power plants of various classes of ships.


It is know that Indian Navy was the first customer to place an order on Zorya-Mashproekt Gas Turbine R&D Complex after independence of Ukraine.


Gas Turbine engines are used on a number of frontline ships of the Indian Navy, for the helicopter engines of both the Navy and Air force and also in supporting the AN-32 Aircraft programme of the Indian Air force. In addition Ukraine has also been a great source of spares/sub assemblies for a large spectrum of Soviet origin equipment installed on our ships/submarines, aircrafts, tanks etc.


Ukraine has certain niche areas and equipment. Even now Marine Gas Turbines of Ukraine origin are being used for many of our ships. I think Ukraine needs to be more proactive to be able to market their other product in the Indian Defence Market


- What are the key areas for cooperation in military technology between India and Ukraine?

The Key areas of potential cooperation between India and Ukraine: Marine Gas Turbines, Aircraft Engines, Armored Vehicles/Tanks, Small Arms, Shipbuilding, Air Conditioning and Ventilation Systems, Submarine spares.


Ukraine is a unique manufacturer of floating docks and ship repair facilities that can help India meet the ever-growing demand and lack of ship repair and modernization capabilities.


- The Indian government is now pursuing a policy of diversification of its defense supply market, with an increased focus placed on defense procurements from U.S. companies. Is this meant to gradually and fully replace Soviet and Russian supplied weaponry and equipment in Indian military inventories?

This is very political question.


As I said, historically, India and Soviet Union have had deep all-encompassing cooperation – defense, energy, agriculture etc. But we also import products from various other countries in the West and the East including France, Italy, Germany, UK, Israel, US, etc. Our “Make in India” policy opens its gates for huge opportunities in the Indian defence market for technology providers, to do business together with our Indian enterprises. Accordingly Ukraine will have to step up its visibility and marketing skills to be able to take part in this process.


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AN-32RE Air Force India / photo DP "Antonov"


- But you have the situation, when American combat helicopters AH-64E "Apache" won the tender instead of the Russian Mi-28, CH-47F "Chinook" instead of heavy transport helicopter Mi-26, Boeing P-8 Poseidon instead of Russian Tu-142, etc. Does it mean that Russia is losing the Indian market?

Well. This is again a political question and i am not in position to answer this. However long term projects with any country have long term support line and cooperation. Therefore one should not derive conclusions from the logic given by you.


- Apparently, you regularly analyze Indian media space. What do your Media say about the Ukrainian-Indian cooperation?

Maybe I am wrong, but I am not seeing a lot of news about Ukraine in India. I think it is should be a part of your marketing strategy. Your visibility should be more in India.


- What are the key priorities for the development and growth of the Indian defense industry? And in which areas and how could Ukraine be engaged as partner, given the “Make in India” strategy being pursued by your country?

As highlighted there are many areas where Ukrainians can enter and be a part of “Make in India” programme as mentioned above. Somehow Ukraine has not aggressively projected itself and has not pursued this goal with perseverance. See getting into Defence Sector requires a concerted effort and push. I feel Ukraine has not pushed this aspect. They have been primarily concentrating on supply of spares which is a minuscule business. I think the Ukrainian defence companies need to draw out a blue print and aggressively market and push their products. They also need to collaborate with Indian Industries and find partners to jointly progress such projects. Also Ukraine needs to be a bit more open to share and transfer technology.


Events like DEFEXPO are good platforms to showcase your capabilities and these should be made full use of. I think Ukraine has a great potential in many areas like Gas Turbines, Aero engines, Tanks, Shipbuilding, Ship repairs underwater equipment/sensors, etc. A strategy needs to be made and followed. A serious focused approach towards this end will help in Ukraine taking part in the growing Indian defence market.


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