Russia and Italy are to jointly build and modernize maritime patrol aircraft, after signing a cooperation agreement at the Farnborough Air Show in Britain.
The deal was signed by Alexander Mikheyev, deputy chief of Russian arms corporation Rosoboronexport and the heads of Finmeccanica’s Selex, Galileo, and Selex Elsag companies.
The new plane will be developed on the basis of Russian-made unspecified aircraft, but fitted with Italian-made navigation, communications and IFF systems and weapons, including lightweight torpedoes from WASS, a Finmeccanica group company.
“This is an agreement on the promotion of products for third countries. Italian equipment will be installed on Russian-made patrol and special-purpose aircraft,” Mikheyev said.
“It took three years to prepare the agreement. We hope that this product will be adapted to enterprises affiliated with the Rostekhnologii state corporation,” he said, adding that the document also envisions future upgrades of aircraft earlier supplied to foreign customers.
It may take up to two years to decide which aircraft could be used as a base platform for the new patrol plane, Mikheyev said.
Finmeccanica hopes to strike a deal to modernize Russia’s Beriev Be-200 amphibian aircraft, Selex Galileo’s Executive Director Fabrizio Giuliani said.
“If we get the chance, it would be a unique aircraft. We are discussing modern navigation equipment in the plane,” he said.
The Italians are carrying out market research to study demand for the aircraft, he said.
“We hope that in ten years this sector will be one of the fastest developing in aviation. Today it’s hard to gauge the market for these aircraft, but I think there are great possibilities,” he added.
Mikheyev said most of the aircraft would remain in its original specification. “We are just talking about navigation systems,” he said.
The Be-200 is the world’s only production jet-powered amphibian aircraft. The main variant is a firefighting air-tanker aircraft, which can also be adapted for passenger or cargo transport, or search and rescue operations.