India is Ukraine's key Asian partner

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    bengalraider DFI Technocrat Stars and Ambassadors

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    By Dr Igor Polikha, Ambassador of Ukraine in New Delhi Published : November 2009
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    Eighteen years back, India recognized the newly-born independent state of Ukraine. Starting from that day the multidimensional cooperation between our two friendly countries has witnessed as stories of real success, despite some temporary slowdowns.

    Being Ambassador of Ukraine in India, I have got several reasons to be proud of the latest achievements in our relations. Nowadays India has become the foreign policy priority and the key Asian partner of Ukraine. On the other hand, Ukraine has also entered the list of the European priorities for the Republic of India.
    The two friendly countries are holding a regular political dialogue. Our positions on a wide spectrum of international issues either coincide or are very close.
    We are moving forward in many other spheres of cooperation.
    For example, in 2008 we recorded the highest ever turnover in our bilateral trade which exceeded USD 1.8 billion. And this positive trend in the Ukrainian-Indian bilateral trade, in spite of the global economic recession, is gaining momentum this year also.
    It’s a real pleasure for me to state that during my stint as the Ambassador of Ukraine, our two countries have started implementation of some serious joint economic projects. For instance, on 15 June 2009, we signed an important contract to modernize 105 AN-32 transport aircraft the Indian Air Force (IAF) had acquired from the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
    Valued at about USD 400 million, this is the largest single contract in our bilateral history.
    It may be noted that Ukraine has a great potential in transport aircraft as the erstwhile Soviet Union had set up most of its infrastructure in this regard in the Ukrainian cities. We do wish, and hope, to partner with India and Russia in the development of transport aircraft for common requirements.
    In fact, the possibility of wide prospects for our interaction in the aviation field was confirmed also during the recent official visit to Ukraine of IAF’s Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal P V Naik – his first foreign trip after assuming this high and most responsible position.
    India has a huge and lucrative defence market as it has to replace, upgrade and augment its armed forces which are still equipped with Soviet-origin inventory. Naturally, this is considered by Ukraine as one of the outmost priorities.
    Of course, compared to some other states which are long-time partners of India, Ukraine can be considered as a newcomer on the Indian market. But, at the same time it is worth mentioning that this newcomer is a rather resourceful partner, having inherited a chunk of the Soviet aeronautics capability after the Soviet Union, or USSR, ceased to exist in 1991.
    But building on that, we have updated and modernized our aviation industry infrastructure and potential.
    Sometimes our modern equipment and technologies are mistakenly ascribed to the Russian Federation (in no case I’m going to put into doubt the existing Russian technological and industrial potential). But let me remind you that within the former Soviet Union, Ukraine was its most industrially and technologically developed part.
    Overall, Ukraine has preserved and in many areas upgraded its high technical and scientific potential, especially in the field of defence production, particularly in aircraft, main battle tanks, space, electronic warfare systems and ship building.
    In this connection let me give a few simple examples: Ukraine is the manufacturer of the most powerful transport aircraft in the world – AN- 225 “Mriya” (the Dream) with a load capacity of 250 tons.
    Technologies and technical solutions of several models of Ukrainian cargo planes, especially AN-70, which were developed as far back as in the 1980s, were actually far ahead of their time by at least 20 years. Some of these in fact are still not matched by leading western aircraft building corporations.
    It goes without saying that these technologies and solutions are still being further improved and upgraded.
    In this regard the latest positive changes in various fields of Ukrainian- Indian relations have made our two countries capable of opening in the nearest future several new pages in the history of cooperation, as well as writing some new chapters in certain areas.
    One of them is undoubtedly in defence and military technical cooperation.
    Ukraine is ready for joint projects, both bilateral and multilateral, in manufacturing and exchange of modern technologies. There is a great potential and it can be used to mutual advantage.
    I think that the level of bilateral cooperation has already set the stage for conclusion of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Defence to facilitate consolidation and further development of the existing multifaceted cooperation in defence.
    Signing of the above treaty will enable the two countries to diversify, to a considerable extent, their interaction and to set up an effective joint intergovernmental mechanism of coordination in this field.
    At the same time, while analyzing the existing state of Ukrainian-Indian cooperation in the defence, we have to be realistic and admit that until now it has been mainly limited to supply of spare parts from Ukraine and repair at Ukrainian plants of military equipment produced in the former USSR.
    But even in this area, not all possibilities are being utilized. Ukrainian designers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), in addition to developing new stateof- the-art equipment, constantly upgrade their technologies of repair, modernization, re-equipment and life extension of aged but reliable Soviet military equipment and systems.
    This provides wide opportunities for significant improvement of combat performance and maintenance of the equipment in service of the Indian Armed Forces, especially military radars, aircraft and armoured vehicles.
    Modernization of electronic warfare systems proposed by Ukrainian enterprises is carried out with the use of new technology components based on Commercially Available off the Shelf (COTS) products from renowned suppliers, thus transforming outdated hardware into up-to-date products.
    Modernization of different types of military aircraft is carried out by installation of state-of-the-art avionics from renowned designers with simultaneous life extension and further possibilities of avionics upgrade in close cooperation with European and US designers and manufacturers.
    Significant potential for growth of cooperation is concentrated in the field of modern warfare – electronic reconnaissance and jamming systems, infrared countermeasure systems for protection of aircraft against the latest portable air defence systems, radarbased fast reaction countermeasure systems for protection of tanks and armoured personnel carriers (APCs) against precision ammunition.
    Ukraine can also transfrer closedcycle technologies of tank building, aircraft building and space industries. The two countries could initiate a systematic approach in this regard.
    The Ukrainian machine builders and engine manufacturers are among the world leaders as far as engine and Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFV) technology is concerned and have pioneered some really innovative systems and concepts related to heavy engines and AFVs.
    State Enterprise Kharkiv Engine Design Bureau (KEB) is a leading design and production facility of AFV engines in Ukraine. Since its establishment in 1931, it has been the primary design and manufacturing facility of the erstwhile Soviet Union and subsequently of Ukraine. Its history includes design and manufacture of virtually each and every engine used by the Soviet AFVs.
    Currently the KEB is in serial production of TD Series 3/5/6 Cylinder, Opposed Piston and Gas Turbine, Ejection Cooled, Hybrid Engines — a mix of piston and gas turbine engine, an endeavour unique to the KEB as most engine manufacturers in the world have not succeeded in producing even a prototype of such an engine.
    The Ukrainian designers have further improved their Hybrid Engine, and their TD Series Hybrid Engines are now state-of-the-art, most suited for modern AFVs due to their low weight and small volume. This allows AFV designers to reduce AFV weight and profile, making the machines more combat worthy to operate in the most adverse conditions ranging from high altitude and extreme cold (-40oC) to hot and dusty deserts with temperatures up to +55oC, where the Hybrid Engines perform at peak efficiency.
    In fact, other major engine manufactures all over the world are now only considering this option and attempting to develop their own Hybrid Engines but are yet to meet with any tangible result.
    KEB produces engines of different power outputs for different applications starting from 280 HP and going up to 1400 HP. Among sterling qualities of these engines are their very low volume and hence the ability to fit in virtually all existing AFV engine compartments. They are apparently a very attractive solution for engine upgrades in respect of existing AFVs.
    I have mentioned only a few perspective areas of full-fledged Ukrainian-Indian cooperation in the defence field.
    Undoubtedly, this list can be further expanded to a considerable extent. Ukraine and India have got the major prerequisites for turning these ideas into reality: goodwill and readiness. These are our most precious assets towards a fruitful future of cooperation.

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