Future of Belarusian defence industry largely depends on successes in Asia
Asian market is the priority for the Belarusian defence policy. This priority was identified long before the beginning of the current regional security crisis. It is based on a rational assumption: Asia has the money and Belarus has technologies. Military-technical cooperation between Belarus and Asian countries will only grow.
Last week, the Belarusian defence industry delegation visited Pakistan.
Belarus is actively developing contacts with Asian countries on the political and military-technical level, and when choosing a partner-country she is guided by its size and financial capacity. That is why Yemen and Laos do not receive equal attention as the UAE or Bangladesh from Minsk.
Asia is one of the major international arms markets. The fall in oil prices has opened new opportunities for Belarusian gunmakers: oil-exporting countries, which previously could afford the best regardless of the price, have been prompted to cut down expenses. And on the price/quality ratio, the Belarusian military-industrial complex as a whole looks good. In addition, many Asian countries are equipped with Soviet-made weapons or their Chinese replicas (for example, T-54/55). Belarus is able to offer repair and modernisation services for such weapons.
In addition, Belarus has no political ambitions in the region or commitments, which could have an impact on performance of military products from Belarus in case of a crisis. What this means is that there are no so-called "bugs" - software and hardware systems, which allow controlling performance of a weapon remotely, including disabling it.
However, there are some problem issues:
- There are many contradictions among the countries in the region, and developing military-technical cooperation with one could exclude cooperation with another country.
- Corruption in the region’s public management system requires flexibility, bordering untidiness when fighting for a market share.
- Belarus is working in the same price range as such arms market behemoths as China and Russia.
Currently, military-industrial cooperation between Belarus and Asia is carried out in several areas.
Firstly, Belarusian manufacturers of equipment make adjustments to meet requirements of Asian customers: Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant has developed trailer MZKT 741351 used to transport different armoured vehicles for the United Arab Emirates.
Secondly, investment cooperation, when foreign companies become shareholders in Belarusian manufacturers of military equipment. Last November, ADCOM Systems (UAE) acquired Belarusian KB INDELA, which is the leading developer and manufacturer of helicopter type UAV in the CIS.
Thirdly, Belarusian military-industrial facilities offer modernisation services for military equipment of Soviet manufacture. In March 2016, Myanmar publicly demonstrated ‘Square-M’ anti-aircraft missile complex, which was modernized by Belarusian ALEVKURP.
Fourthly, joint development of new technology, in particular, Belarus and Pakistan currently discuss the possibility of working together on electronic warfare systems.
Fifthly, direct transfer of foreign technologies to Belarus, for example, MLRS Polonaise has become the first child of the national missile programme.
Like Minsk, Asian capitals prefer talking about interests, not values, especially such obscure (for them), such as human rights or democracy. Bilateral relations between Belarus and Asian countries are unmarred by mutual claims and conflicts. In addition, technology exchange in defence field with these countries is less bureaucratic than with the EU countries. Military-technical cooperation between Belarus and Asian countries will only grow in the future.