Several dozen types of innovative developments of the Ukrainian defense sector, including armored vehicles, small arms, aviation, missile systems and other new products, were showcased for the first time in the United States at the prestigious international exhibition AUSA 2017 (the Association of the United States Army). A three-day exhibition, attended by about 600 companies from all over the world, began in central Washington on Monday, October 9. Domestic machinery and weapons are officially represented by the Ukroboronprom State Concern.
UKRAINIAN SOLUTIONS TESTED IN COMBAT CONDITIONS
The exposition is located at the Washington Convention Center, which usually hosts events on a global scale. For example, last year it hosted a nuclear security summit involving the presidents and heads of government. Its main feature was the unprecedented level of security within a radius of a few districts, with a secret service, helicopters, metal detectors, and dogs.
The main feature of the current exhibition is hundreds of people in the uniforms of different countries both inside the center and on the street, mainly senior officers. However, there are also many civilians (probably investors and defense business representatives). The American logistics of mass events is well organized as usual.
The exhibition itself is located in pavilions on the lower tier. The first impression when you descend an escalator is that everything is bright, modern, and very diverse. The Ukrainian stand is one of the most expressive in the pavilion thanks to the exhibited full-scale samples of armored vehicles. The sand-yellow combat module Phantom 2 (an eight-wheeled armored personnel carrier), a BTR-4E armored personnel carrier, a new 6TD-2 tank engine, and small arms samples, including the new Ukrainian-U.S. M4 assault rifle (WAC-47), are only part of the presented samples. The models of An-132 and An-158 planes, armored KrAZ trucks - Hulk and Fiona, as well as an Oplot tank and other Ukrainian developments, are also showcased. The main emphasis is that all the equipment has been tested in combat conditions. It is a very important signal for customers.
U.S. INTERESTED IN HOW TO REACT TO MODERN FORMS OF AGRESION
"The main task of participation in this exhibition is maximum cooperation with American companies. Here we want to demonstrate the capabilities of our defense industry and invite Americans to work together," Roman Romanov, Director General of the Ukroboronprom State Concern, said in comments to Ukrinform.
He said that Ukraine was creating weapons of the next level and seeking to finally end its dependence on Russia, which existed even in 2014. By that time, about 50% of weapons samples were designed using components from Russia. "Today, in order to move forward and create new high-tech projects, we need to communicate with American companies, we need their systems that already work and are present on the U.S. market, and we are ready to apply them," Romanov said.
Roman Romanov, Valeriy Chaly, and Andriy Kovalchuk (from left to right)
According to him, Americans are also interested in joint work with Ukraine, because new developments are capable of responding more effectively to modern forms of armed aggression. In addition, the Ukrainian defense industry is backed by experienced engineers. "This potential may be of interest to American companies and corporations. We can unite our efforts and create modern developments with the best possible value," the Ukroboronprom chief said.
In this regard, he provided examples of successful joint projects, including the creation of border surveillance systems, the joint production of the M4 assault rifle (WAC-47), which can use ammunition of NATO and former Soviet standards, as well as projects in the aviation sector. In the long-term, there will be developments in the production of armored vehicles, as well as in the field of aviation and communications.
"All of these projects are very necessary for Ukraine, and I think that in any case it will be mutual development of the competence of both countries, that is, it will benefit both the Ukrainian side and the United States," the Ukroboronprom director said.
BETTER PROSPECTS FOR UKRAINE IN U.S.
Valeriy Chaly, Ukraine's ambassador in Washington, told the agency that the current situation in the U.S. defense sector is becoming more favorable for Ukrainian-U.S. cooperation in this area.
"The situation is changing now. The current U.S. administration is paying more attention to the development of the army, navy, and aviation, with targeted funds allocated for this purpose. The U.S. Department of Defense budget for 2018 envisages large sums - bigger than last year, and this attracts the attention of American business," the Ukrainian diplomat said.
He also noted that Ukraine now creates better conditions for U.S. investment in the arms and ammunition sector. "That is, we now have other conditions for political dialogue, other conditions for military-technical cooperation," the ambassador said.
At the same time, he noted that such cooperation would not affect the prospects of providing Ukraine with lethal defensive weapons from the United States. "We are appealing to the United States with the request to supply us with what we lack. These are counter-battery radars, secure communications systems, unmanned aerial vehicles, and other equipment and weapons. This is absolutely additional [military equipment] to what our industry produces," the diplomat said.
On the other hand, according to him, "Americans also have free niches, the cost of which will be very expensive and will take time." Because of this, the United States is interested in Ukrainian developments. "Therefore, this is a two-way road," Chaly said.
Automatic grenade launcher KBA.117
He drew attention to the fact that the Ukrainian pavilion, Ukrainian samples occupy one of the central places in the exhibition, both geographically and in terms of attention. "And this is also the image of the country, which testifies that Ukraine is developing, in particular, in this area, which is a very important element in Washington," the ambassador said.
There is another significant detail announced during a press conference by the Ukrainian delegation in Washington - the competitiveness of Ukrainian defense potential is increasingly recognized in the world.
Even in 2014, when Russia began armed aggression against Ukraine, the Ukroboronprom State Concern was not even listed in the DefenseNews rating. In 2015, the concern took 92nd position, in 2016 - 68th place, and in mid-2017 it rose to 62nd spot in the ranking. This means one thing - successive progress and deprivation of dependence on the old Soviet military-industrial complex.
In other words, the Ukrainian military industry is increasingly getting integrated into the Western model. For Ukraine this is now another important direction in diversifying and reducing the hybrid impact of the former "fraternal" country, which ultimately only enhances the conditions for its own isolation and moves away from the civilized world.
Yaroslav Dovgopol, Washington