Ukraine to regain position in world space and missile industry


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by Vitalii Usenko and Dmytro Usenko

The Dnipropetrovsk Oblast State Administration has begun to restore the glory of Pivdenmash as a major space and missile-building industry, the domestic leader and once a major player in the world, PIC News reported on May 8, 2014.

Ihor Kolomoisky, the current Governor of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, and Serhiy Voight, acting CEO of Pivdenmash, the southern machine-building company, have signed a memorandum of cooperation to this effect.

“Because of the situation with Russia, some of Pivdenmash’s projects and contracts were on the verge of collapse, but now the situation has been stabilized. Pivdenmash has kept its old contracts and will soon begin negotiations on new projects,” their joint statement said.

According to the memorandum, the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast State Administration will be responsible for all political issues relating to Pivdenmasn and will contribute to the establishment of a non-partisan industrial territory. The Oblast Administration will also support the unconditional fulfillment of international agreements and long-term contracts with foreign and domestic customers alike.

On its part, Pivdenmash is committed to developing the missile and space capabilities of both Dnipropetrovsk and Ukraine, participating in development programs in the oblast, and  providing jobs for specialists and graduates of technical universities.

The MoC will be valid for all of 2014 and automatically renew for another three years.

As a reference Pivdenmash is essential for Russia to maintain its older generation, soviet-made intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which still form the basis for its nuclear missile power. Specifically, the RS-20, also known as RS-36M (Voevoda), or the SS-18 Satan according to NATO classifications, was developed and produced by Pivdenmash in Dnipropetrovsk.

Pivdenmash still produces Zenith carrier rockets in Dnipropetrovsk and it could be a problem for the Russian space industry if they were to be dropped for good. Ukraine also produces components of control systems for the carrier rockets Proton, Soyuz, Kosmos and for the International Space Station.

The Pivdenne Design Bureau and Pivdenmash are in a sensitive position for Russia, as they service ICBMs of older generations. Today, the Strategic Missile Forces have only four dozen fully-Russian RT-2UTTKh Topol-M missiles (NATO designation SS-27 Sickle B) at their disposal. Pivdenmash can produce other types of Russian ICBMs, such as the Dnepr light missiles developed and produced by the Pivdenne DB and Pivdenmash. The Dnepr light missile design is based on the ICBM SS-18 Satan.

George Soros’s suggestion about a Marshall Plan for Ukraine is very timely and appropriate, from both the geopolitical and international finance points of view. There are huge industrial capacities in Eastern and Southern Ukraine that are in urgent need of restructuring. This restructuring needs to be in compliance with EU technical standards. In order to achieve this, a large-scale financial assistance program, together with a technical assistance program, is vital for Ukraine. Industries like these should not just be shut down as they potentially provide hundreds of thousands of jobs. To close them would result in serious social upheaval that might simply contribute to the disintegration of Ukraine.

As was reported earlier, the Kremlin is concerned that the Ukrainian side might sell the ballistic missile technology currently in service in Russia to third countries. Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement to official Kyiv on this issue in April 2014.

This makes Governor Kolomoisky’s initiative on a powerful space and missile corporation like Pivdenmash one of potentially global significance. This comes at a time when Putin is trying to lure Ukraine’s defense industry specialists to Russia.

Failure to support Ukraine’s defense industry, and Pivdenmash in particular, could result in a brain-drain of top-notch Ukrainian defense industry specialists and the transfer of sensitive military technologies from Ukraine to Russia. This would allow Russia to successfully complete re-armament, despite US and EU sanctions that actually do not seems to be properly followed up by certain EU member states: France refuses to cancel its Mistral warship deal with Russia according to Reuters and EU–Russia energy co-operation is continuing uninterruptedly, writes Euromaidan PR.

Written by: Dr. Vitalii Usenko, MD, MBA, expert of the Center of Military-Political Studies in the sphere of psychology of communications, and by Dmytro Usenko, student at Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

Edited by Lidia Wolanskyj

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