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Grand plans to fly high are cherished here on Earth

Belarus may soon be known for manufacturing airplanes and helicopters. This was said following President Lukashenko’s visit to the 558th Aircraft Repair Plant.
By Veniamin Mishin

This was said following President Lukashenko’s visit to the 558th Aircraft Repair Plant. Rather than relying on the modernisation and repair of existing machinery, the President is convinced that it’s necessary to move forward, independently mastering the production of new aircraft, including helicopters. He believes the Orsha site to be suitable, saying, “What would it involve to produce a helicopter today, in Orsha? It wouldn’t be difficult, since Motor Sich [a Ukrainian company which owns a share of Orsha Aircraft Repair Plant] can supply the engines. All we need is to import two or three complex components; we have everything else that’s required: rivets, casing and so on. We should produce our own aircraft. It is up to you to decide what kind of airplanes we will produce. The key point is that these airplanes should sell well on the market, primarily on the Russian market.”

Mr. Lukashenko expressed his thoughts regarding conceptual areas for implementation of such plans during a meeting with employees of the Orsha Plant, telling them, “We should go further, creating aircrafts. They won’t be 100 percent Belarusian since we’ll liaise with Russia and other states in production. However, we shouldn’t act too hastily to create our own aircraft — civil or military. Rather, if we’re going to produce something, it should be advanced — for international sale. This is quite a challenge and we will hardly be able to handle it alone. We don’t have the necessary capacity, as well as financial and human resources. Probably, we should not even set this task. However, we should definitely develop some aircrafts in co-operation with Russia and other states.”

Repair and modernisation will remain important, since not everyone can afford to buy new. However, Belarus can gradually begin making the necessary parts for aircraft domestically, achieving command of new technologies, until it reaches its destination and the Belarusian defence industry enters a new stage.

The Chairman of the State Defence Industries Committee, Sergey Gurulev, underlines that it’s important to provide the Belarusian Army with advanced armaments, so production should be directed towards the defence sector. In planning development of such enterprises until 2025, it was clear that high-technologies must be embraced, to ensure a bright future.

In the past, some have questioned whether Belarus needs to maintain an army, with all the expense involved. President Lukashenko emphasises, “It appears that we need it, so thank God that we’ve kept up with the times as well as we have, responding to the global situation regarding conflict. We aren’t aggressors and have no desire to be at war with anybody but, if someone tries to invade us, we should be ready to inflict huge damage on them. It is our defensive doctrine. We should maintain our Air Force in good condition, in order to avoid repetition of what has happened to our brother-Ukrainians.”

The President toured the Aircraft Repair Plant, familiarising himself with its condition and prospects for development, including a visit to the assembly line for pilotless craft. Very soon, he plans to visit a similar enterprise in Borisov, which is engaged in the modernisation and repair of body armour. He stressed, “It’s time that we stop just painting and polishing cases and making minor changes; we need to reach a new stage, creating our own body armour. Private companies, as I’ve been told, are now making the latest in personal protective equipment — while large plants rest on their laurels. We must stir you up here in Borisov, to work more effectively, thinking of the future.”

Naturally, co-operation needs to be expanded with other countries, as the President noted. He explained, “Ukraine is virtually destroyed at present but the defence industry is respectable, including the things that interest you. Let’s try to come to terms with Ukrainians and work together to prevent the loss of intellectual and engineering centres, and designers in Ukraine. Europeans, and others, are interested in working with us, so we need to think more broadly — of foreign markets and of sales to the Russian Federation.”

During his working trip to Baranovichi, President Lukashenko mentioned other topics, including the issue of new banknotes at some time in the near future. “We will do it when the proper time comes. We need a proper moment for it, proper time for the economy to start working and when there is certain stability in the country. Moreover, denomination process is a pure technicality,” the Belarusian leader remarked. He laments that citizens may view the move as cause for concern, leading to a rush on exchange offices, to buy Dollars and Euros. He would rather that they went shopping, to buy all they need.

Agricultural issues and the region’s social and economic development also came under discussion, with the Governor of the Brest Region, Konstantin Sumar, giving a report. The President criticised the management of the region for such a small number of major sites that are being constructed in various sphere of economy.
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