On 31 January, Belarus’s state military-industrial committee reported that the export of Belarusian arms in 2017 exceeded the previous year by 15%, reaching more than $1bn sales— says BelarusDigest. According to Stockholm based research organisation Sipri, Belarus maintain number 18th position of the top twenty global arms exporter.
In the year 2017, Belarusian arms manufacturers have sold products to 69 countries, compared to just 60 countries in 2016. Minsk-based KB Radar exported its electronic warfare systems Groza-S and Optima-B, while the Barysau-based 140th Tank Repair Plant delivered its light-armoured vehicles, Kaiman and V-1, not only to the Belarusian army but also to an undisclosed African nation.
Historial Ties and Challenges
Belarusian arms industries have historical ties with Russian and Ukrainian Manufacturer. Minsk allegedly stopped selling Kyiv military equipment immediately after Ukrainian Army started military operations in eastern Ukraine. Belarusian arms industry and Russian Arms industry still collaborated on various parts of the missile, radar and tanks.
Although Minsk’s made an effort to maintain neutrality between Moscow and Kyiv, Baku and Yerevan, and diversity in export destination assisted Minsk to achieve such result in 2017. Since Russia started domestic production most of the component, Minsk faces challenges exporting products which have Russian parts. In addition to difficulties with Russia and Ukraine, Belarus recently needed to resolve controversies in its collaboration with Azerbaijan.
End of Belarus-Ukraine Cooperation
Minsk has been tangled between Russia and Ukrainian worsen relationship especially in joint venture sector with Ukrainian Arms manufacturer. The Ukrainian Pavlohrad Chemical Plant is planning to test its new product, Grom-2, a tactical ballistic missile system. An undisclosed foreign customer financed its development. Russian experts, such as Alexander Khramchikhin and chief editor of the Export vooruzhenii review Andrei Frolov, name Belarus alongside countries such as Saudi Arabia or Pakistan as possible sources of funding. However, Minsk was excluded from the lucrative deal of joint venture due to the fall-out between Russia and Ukraine.
While some experts, such as the Russian defence blog BMPD, have insisted that Saudi Arabia is financing Grom-2 tactical ballistic missile, details known about the deal cast doubt on this. First of all, according to the conditions of the August deal with an unrevealed foreign customer, the Ukrainians will retain the intellectual property rights for the system. That is not a Saudi-style business. In a similar agreement with the Ukrainian aircraft design and manufacturing firm Antonov, Saudi Arabia financed the designing of the An-132 aircraft on the condition that all intellectual rights for the plane remained with Saudi Arabia.
Minsk develops its defence industrial capacities in the area of armoured vehicle, truck, electronics, rockets and missiles.
Minsk believes that with the introduction of a new missile R-60BM and R-73BM, it can make the Belarus variant of Buk-MB SAM system fit-for-purpose again.
Belarusian successfully manufacturered the Palanez MLRS long range rocket in the first quarter of 2018. The Palanez is the first successful Belarus-Chinese joint venture. The Palanez, multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS) capable of delivering a conventional 560 kg payload as far as 300 km. The Palanez can also shoot at 200 km with much smaller rockets.
The 140th Tank Repair Works manufactured Cayman armoured patrol car is an original product produced mostly from Belarusian components.
Repair and Maintenance Works
The 558th Aircraft Repair Works in the city of Baranavichy conducts overhaul and modernisation of helicopters and aircraft. Last year, it signed a contract to overhaul twelve Su-25 fighter aircraft for Kazakhstan. Concurrently, it is also completing the overhaul and modernisation of the second-hand Su-30K jets which Russia promised to Angola. The latter contract generates at least as much income as the deal with Kazakhstan.
The Russian tactical ballistic missile system Iskander, some S-400 surface-to-air missile systems’ parts, and the mobile coastal defence missile systems Bastion, Bal-E, and Bereg all operate on MZKT-7930 chassis manufactured by the Minsk-based factory MZKT.
Belarusian sight devices are installed on various Russian anti-tank systems, including the T-90, T-72, and T-80 tanks and infantry fighting vehicles. Russian defence industries also use Belarusian fire control systems on different armoured vehicles. Likewise, Belarusian firms supply electronic warfare and some avionics; these are installed not only on modernised Su-27 but also on the most advanced Russian fighter aircraft Su-57.
Military Technical Cooperation
Belarus also signed a military-technical cooperation agreement with Pakistan, Myanmar and Bangladesh worth millions of dollar.
Belarusian expert has been stationed in Myanmar to support Buk-MB SAM and other Soviet made equipment.
Bangladesh also established a MRO facility of armoured vehicle in collaboration with the Minsk Trucktor Factory of Belarus.
Belarus Digest reported that Belarus also signed an agreement with Pakistan to maintain and upgrade armoured vehicle and components of tanks supplied by Ukraine.
Belarusian arms industry remain closely linked to the Russian arms industry, but Belarus does not depend on it. Belarus defence Industry is dynamic, willing to introduce new products, diversify markets and partners, and transfer of technology to prospective buyers.
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