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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Russian strikes on Ukraine’s defence industry could spell disaster for Pakistan and India

As part of their demilitarization plan, the Russians have targeted the Zorya-Mashproekt factory in Mykolaiv and the Antonov plant in Kyiv. The two companies account for a significant supply of naval turbines, helicopters & light aircraft engines, cruise missiles, turbofan/turbojet engines etc to the world and especially to Pakistan and India

Footage has surfaced, showing factories of Ukrainian state defense industries, Antonov and Zorya-Mashproekt, on fire due to Russian missile and artillery strikes. The strikes spell disaster for the states which have previously procured Ukraine-based defense equipment.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the accompanying financial reckoning have taken the world by storm. The international community has responded to the Russian aggression by imposing strict economic sanctions on the Federation. Trade between Europe’s largest country and the rest of it has also sustained a massive blow. However, that is merely one side of the coin. The Russian “Blitzkrieg” into Ukraine started off with aerial bombardment of the Ukrainian military and its supporting infrastructure, but soon after, it started taking everything into its grip.

Twitter is now flooded with footage of Russian bombardment on industries, hospitals and apartment buildings. The fallout from the war has taken a significant toll on the global economy as the crisis stirs up uncertainty. In the most recent move, Russia has started targeting Ukrainian defense industries, which contributed a significant chunk to the country’s export industry. As part of their demilitarization plan, the Russians have targeted the Zorya-Mashproekt factory in Mykolaiv and the Antonov plant in Kyiv.

The two companies account for a significant supply of naval turbines, helicopters & light aircraft engines, cruise missiles, turbofan/turbojet engines etc to the world and especially to Pakistan and India. The attack on these factories could spell a disaster for countries that relied on these companies for procurement of state of the art technology and henceforth its maintenance. 

Read More: Russia and China’s military ties grow strong amid Ukraine conflict

The Indian Air Force operates over 100 An-32 aircraft, a turboprop twin-engined military transport aircraft manufactured by Antonov. With the capacity to transport either 7.5t of cargo, 50 passengers, 42 paratroopers, or 24 patients and three medical crew over domestic and international air routes the aircraft plays a crucial role in supporting the Indian military. Similarly, the Indian Navy depends on Zorya-Mashproekt engines to power many of its surface ships, including the Talwar-class stealth frigates and Delhi-class destroyers. Although various sources report that spare parts for immediate maintenance are available, the worry is about the long-term supply of these parts for maintenance.

The Ukrainian company had also signed a contract with India to supply propulsion systems for the Indian Navy’s two M7H2 gas turbines for Indian frigates under construction at the state shipbuilding company Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL).

Read More: Conflict in Ukraine – From a Russian perspective

Former Navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash (retd), also took note of the current scenario and cautioned that “given the Indian Navy’s large holdings of Ukrainian marine gas turbines, which power Indian destroyers, frigates and corvettes, this is an opportune moment to seriously consider a Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)/ Zorya Mashproekt joint venture to manufacture them in India”.

INS Visakhapatnam India’s lead ship and the first of the Visakhapatnam-class stealth guided-missile destroyers of the Indian Navy also uses the Ukrainian gas turbines for its propulsion.

Similarly, Pakistan is also reliant on Ukrainian-built military assets. Pakistan’s main battle tank, Al-Khalid, is powered by the KMDB (Kharkiv Morozov Machine-Building Design Bureau) 6TD-2 6 cylinder diesel engine. Moreover, Pakistan also has the T-80 Ukrainian-built tanks in its armored division. 

Read more: Putin hums ‘Georgia on my mind’

The destruction of defense industry factories is a cause for great concern for the countries that have imported defense equipment from the war-ridden country. Though the problem might be insulated for now, the long-term consequences could be more profound.