Some prefer Bell

Russian companies repeatedly lose the tenders for the delivery of defense technology. This time, the contest was lost to the American helicopter manufacturer, the Bell company. Pursuant to the terms of the contract, Bell is to deliver 145 helicopters to Turkey. The sum of the transaction is evaluated in four billion American dollars.

The story with the competition for the delivery of the military helicopters for the Turkish army has been going on for several years, since 1997. The Russian company Kamov was not doing bad. The Ka-50-2 Erdogen helicopter (the model was modernized together with one of the Israeli companies) was ahead of Boeing’s Apache Longbow, as well as French-German Eurocopter’s Tiger and the Italian Mangusta. The real competitor for the Russian company was Bell with its King Cobra.

The most interesting thing here is that the Americans won the tender in the summer of the year 2000. However, there was a problem. One of the contractual terms included the requirement to present all the necessary technical documentation to Turkey in order to give an opportunity for the Turkish to establish the production of helicopters for its army afterwards. The Americans did not agree with such a condition. As a result, Ankara vetoed purchasing the choppers from Bell, and Kamov got a chance to win, taking into consideration the fact that Russia did not mind rendering the technical documentation to Turkey. The latter used the confusion and did not reach a decision for 18 months. The Americans could hardly give up on such a contract, and since Turkey is a NATO member, then there were not only economic, but also political, methods used to pressure Turkey.

The director of the Russian company Kamov, Sergey Mikheyev, said, “Turkey was experiencing incredible pressure.” The Russian companies have to face tough competition on the part of the foreign firms on the foreign defense-technology market. No wonder, as the arms commerce is a super-profitable business. However, there is one thing that does cause concern: Russian companies often lose those competitions, while they offer better conditions for cooperation in comparison with other companies. Furthermore, Russia can be ousted from the markets of its traditional partners, for example, India. The USA has recently lifted its ban to deliver defense technology to India. This ban was put into effect in 1998, after India started performing nuclear tests. Not only Russian, but also French and Israeli firms, managed to penetrate this large defense market during that period of time. The Americans are going to run for that position too, and they have many more opportunities than all other importers of weapon altogether. Therefore, Russian companies are currently facing hard times.

The administrations of the Russian companies that deal with the export of defense technology ought to think about changing their tactics to promote their production on the foreign markets. Russia has something to offer indeed; the question is how to do it. The answer to this question is very important, as Russian companies will either get what they want or lose what they have.

Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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