IDEF is an important exhibition in the context of entering regional and international market
Interview with the Minister of Defense Industry of Azerbaijan Yaver Jamalov
In the last 10 years, Ministry of Defense Industry of Azerbaijan (MODIAR) managed to become one of the leading defense industries in the region by implementing number of projects. Implementing big projects in defense sphere of South Caucasus and South-East Europe, Azerbaijan also pays attention to development of national defense industry. The country implements projects in defense industry jointly with firms of Turkey and other friend and allied countries.
In the interview with the minister of defense industry, Mr. Yaver JAMALOV we reviewed implemented projects, plans and capabilities of the defense industry of Azerbaijan.
AD: Mr.Jamalov, at the beginning we’d like you to assess the activity of defense industry of Azerbaijan in 2014. In 2014 Azerbaijan hosted military exhibition. In this context, how did 2014 imprint on the defense industry of Azerbaijan?
Yaver Jamalov: I can say that 2014 was successful for Azerbaijan’s defense industry. We successfully performed tasks in all characteristics. Scientific and Research Institute worked on 10 topics according to state order. The tasks were related to the installation of arms on the vehicles, designing new air bombs, modernization of equipment, creation of security system of the objects of special importance and so on. At the same time, works on creation and production of new systems have been carried out in the National Aerospace Agency of MODIAR. As you’ve mentioned, first ADEX-2014 international defense industry exhibition, held in September 2014 in Baku, was one of the result of our successes. The exhibition was attended by 203 companies from 34 countries. Within the exhibition, we had talks and passed decisions with the leading companies for implementation of the projects, in which we are interested.
We conducted negotiations for production and modernization of small arms, ammunitions, military equipment, as well as transfer and production of technology of diverse range missiles. I think that we will start implementation of some of these projects soon.
As a result of conduction of the number of projects we will start serial production of the following products in Azerbaijan:
- 40×46 mm caliber Grenade Launchers
- Ammunition for AQS-30 automatic grenade launchers
- Barrel for small arms (ranging from 5.45 mm to 30 mm caliber)
- 4 types of ammunition for RPQ-7 grenade launchers
- Tank and artillery projectiles (ranging from 80 mm to 155 mm)
I have to note that with the starting of production of barrels we will manage to resolve the biggest problem of small arms. Barrel of every arm has its working life. After that life ends, the arm is being utilized. With the replacement of the barrels, it is possible for the arm to last longer. This can be regarded as an innovation for the military industry of Azerbaijan.
Presently, our plants are producing full scale of ammunition of different caliber. Our new plant will allow us to fully equip our army with artillery and tank projectiles. It will also allow us to implement export. One of the priority task laying ahead of us is the production of ammunition for sniper rifles. We presented proposals about purchasing and installation of production line and production of these ammunitions. I think we will start implementation of this project from next year. By the way, I’d like to note that Azerbaijan is building plants on production of powder, trotil and hexogen that are used in the production of ammunition. By the end of 2016, all these three plants will be put in commission and we will not depend on other countries in term of raw materials for production of ammunition.
AD: Mr.Jamalov, MODIAR obtained license from Russian “Kalashnikov” concern on serial production of AK-74M automatic guns a few years ago. But recently NATO caliber (5.56×45 mm) EM-14 automatic gun, produced by local engineers, was revealed. We have a question here: does Azerbaijan plan to replace Soviet standard arms with NATO standard arms? Is EM-14 designed for local use or for export?
Yaver Jamalov: We have already produced the first example of NATO caliber automatic rifle and it’s currently being tested. Probably, we will start serial production of this arm from the next year. Azerbaijani Army integrates into NATO. We will try to start the production of NATO standard arms in the future. But, up for now EM-14 is designed for export. If there is domestic demand, we will give it to the local authorities as well.
AD: Sniper rifles occupy major place among products, demonstrated by MODIAR. What can you say about wide range of sniper rifles that are presented at IDEF?
Yaver Jamalov: Real test for every arm is real fights. Of course, users pay more attention to the arms that were used in wars. All arms and ammunitions that we produce are directly used during fights and proved themselves. 14.5 mm caliber “Istiglal” anti-materiel sniper rifle is used by Azerbaijani Armed Forces. Azerbaijani militants use this weapon on the frontline, in the most difficult relief, and climate and it has satisfactory results. 12.7 mm caliber “Mubariz” sniper rifle is being tested. We are planning serial production of these arms at the end of this and beginning of the next year. We’ve already started serial production of 7.62×51 mm “Yalguzag” sniper rifle. About 100 of these rifles have been produced and are ready to be shipped to the customer. We are waiting for order for another 7.62×54 mm “Yirtiji” sniper rifle. If we have order for it, we will start serial production this year.
AD: What plans do you have regarding the export of sniper rifles?
Yaver Jamalov: We have proposals from Pakistan, Egypt and other countries either for 7.62×51, or for 7.62×54 mm sniper rifles and two large-caliber rifles. We’ve received offers for 14.5 mm caliber “Istiglal” sniper rifles and are working on them. Documentations, tests, commercial offers should be discussed.
AD: Could you tell us about export potential and data of MODIAR?
Yaver Jamalov: MODIAR implemented $123 mln. export in 2013 and $100 mln. in 2014. If we take into consideration that the Ministry is only 10 years old and 3-4 years were spent on formation period, we can consider these indicators as a success.
Now we are conducting negotiations with several countries on export of ammunition of various calibers, with four Arab countries on RPQ-7V2 grenade launchers and sniper rifles and with America and Russia on optic sights. These are real discussions. Recently, we received offer from Iraq. We will export 500 RPGs and 500 grenade launchers and ammunition for them. I hope that as a result of continuing meetings, we will have significant results in the export in 2015.
AD: Mr.Jamalov, at ADEX-2014 Azerbaijan graphically demonstrated air bombs, produced at the plants of the MODIAR. We ask you to give information about these projects. What did make Azerbaijan with its newly-established defense industry realize such a complex project?
Yaver Jamalov: This project was started several years ago. We received orders from Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces on shipment of air bombs ranging from 7 up to 250 kg. We will hand over these products this year. We can ask a question here: what’s the difference between Azerbaijan-produced air bombs and others produced in other regional countries? I’d like to mention, that our air bombs differs much from Soviet-made bombs. First of all, the shell-splinters are within the bomb and while blast they have greater impact. Analogues on the market are not like that. They create splinters during the blast. Training air bombs produced by our engineers differ from their foreign analogues for their unique security capabilities. One bomb can be used several times, allowing the user to save more money. By the way, several countries expressed their interest for training air bombs. As you mentioned, we demonstrated several models of air bombs at ADEX-2014. At present, works on creation of guided bombs are underway. Probably, we will start their test by the end of the year. Export of air bombs is also our priority and there are broad capabilities for that.
Alongside with air bombs we also continue production of 57 and 81 mm caliber non-guided air rockets.
AD: What projects do you have on modernization of military equipment?
Yaver Jamalov: Presently, MODIAR enterprises are conducting modernization works of ex-soviet vehicles like BTR (APC), BRDM (Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle), MTLB (The Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV)). In February, during IDEX exhibition at Abu Dhabi I had a meeting with the commander of Egypt Land Forces. They want to collaborate with us in modernization. We will invite Egyptian delegation and demonstrate them our potential. I’d like to give you information about one project. After the modernization of MTLB palette tow vehicle we created MTLB AM fire vehicle. I will note, that MTLB was used in the warfare and proved itself. It is still operated by many countries in the world. We can install 23 mm and 30 mm guns made by Denel company on fire module, created by us. The version, demonstrated at ADEX exhibition included reactive fire starting device with 15 turrets, that can fire with 57 mm caliber cumulative-fragmental non-guided projectiles, 7.62 mm caliber PKT gun machine, 30×29 mm AQ-17 grenade launcher, 81 mm caliber smoke grenade launchers and television sights. As a result of modernization, internal operating system was also renewed. If we have an order, we can modernize them according to their purpose.
AD: Which works are underway on production and export of UAVs?
Yaver Jamalov: “Azad Systems’ company established by MODIAR jointly with “Aeronautics” company of Israel has been manufacturing two types of UAVs – “Orbiter-2M2” and “Aerostar” since 2011. During the last period, the orders of Azerbaijani Armed Forces were implemented by us. During tensions on the frontline in summer months of 2014 both “Orbiter” and “Aerostar” were used and they implemented all tasks on high level. Today we implement all orders. In 2014 we also exported 100 UAVs to one of NATO countries.
AD: Mr.Jamalov, How do you evaluate the current state of Turkey-Azerbaijan cooperation in defense industry? What is you forecast for the future?
Yaver Jamalov: Speaking with the words of national leader of Azerbaijan Haydar Aliyev, we are “one nation, two states”. Today the cooperation in defense industry sector between our countries is at high level as in other spheres and the tendency is increasing. We have implemented several projects so far and will reconsider new projects in the future.
We signed protocols on realization of several projects at IDEF in Istanbul in 2013 and exhibitions in Baku in 2014. We’ve already started execution of these contracts. We have started production of MP-5 submachine gun in Azerbaijan jointly with MKE. At the first stage our share in the production will be 20% and then will increase. Next year it will be fully produced in Azerbaijan. At the same time we are producing 4 types of pistols with TISAS. We have produced up to 5 000 pistols and shipped to the customer so far. Currently, we produce 50% of parts of the pistols. In the next 5 years the parts will be produced in Azerbaijan. Moreover, we are working jointly with ASELSAN on production of optics and night-vision systems and thermal devices. We also have projects with other Turkish companies. Probably, we will negotiate on a number of new projects within the IDEF-2015 exhibition. With ROKETSAN we are planning joint production of rockets with a range of 42 km. They made proposals and we submitted those proposals to the government. We will being to work in this direction after government passes a decision.
In general, both Turkish companies and Azerbaijan defense industry are interested in access to markets of each others. Recently, we won the tender of Head Security Authority of Turkey. We will ship 350 units of RPG-7V2 to them.
Presently, we are reviewing the issue of opening SSM (The Undersecretariat for Defense Industries of the Ministry of Defense of Turkey) office in Baku. I think this office will support the development of cooperation between two companies.
AD: MODIAR has been represented at IDEF since 2009. We’d like to know your opinions on IDEF.
Yaver Jamalov: IDEF is one of the biggest military exhibitions in our region and we are glad to participate in this exhibition held in fraternal Turkey. Taking this opportunity, I’d like to congratulate Turkish government, Ministry of National Defense, Turkish Armed Forces Support Foundation, SSM, company which organized the exhibition. IDEF is extremely important to show the capabilities of Turkish defense industry and learning regional and international market and access to this market.
AD: What proposals and plans do you have for stimulating development of defense industry of Azerbaijan? In 2008 the government has wiped out the debts of defense industry enterprises. What such steps are expected for the future period?
Yaver Jamalov: In many countries certain concessions are made for defense industry sector. They are freed from some taxes. We made proposals to the government in this regard. These proposals include property tax, land taxes, exemption from VAT. I think that we will achieve it in the near future. I need to mention, that today MODIAR is fully free from paying import and export taxes.
AD: 100% of enterprises operating in defense sector of Azerbaijan are state-run. What do you think about private companies and joint ventures operating in this sector?
Yaver Jamalov: It’s inevitable that the defense industry sector of Azerbaijan will have private companies in the future. Certain measures will be taken in this direction. However, I think that private companies should not be left without control, their activity should be regulated by Cabinet of Ministers and controlled by MODIAR.
Establishment of joint ventures is on the agenda. As it was mentioned, we have joint venture with “Aeronautics” company of Israel and we produce UAVs. We took a decision to establish a joint venture with one of Brazilian company to produce anti-tank grenade launchers and ammunition for them. Discussions on the establishment of joint venture between ASELSAN company and Alov plant on production of optical products are underway.
AD: Finally, Mr.Jamalov we’d like to know your opinions about the second defense industry exhibition to be held in September 2016, in Baku.
Yaver Jamalov: We expect the number of countries to participate in the ADEX-2016 on 27-30 September 2016 will double compared to the first edition. Taking this opportunity, I invite all companies and delegations participated in the IDEF-2015 to the ADEX-2016 exhibition in Baku.