Aleksandr Lukashenko visits Aircraft Repair Plant

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Belarus sees a qualitatively new stage in the development of its defense complex, said Chairman of the State Defense Industries Committee Sergei Gurulev who accompanied Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko during a visit to OAO 558 Aircraft Repair Plant in Baranovichi on 2 April.

According to Chairman of the State Defense Industries Committee Sergei Gurulev, the main point of the new stage is the provision of the Belarusian army with sophisticated armament and foreign supplies.

“We do not need the army of the mid 20th century any longer. Our country needs a modern army, and it should be based on special-operations and air assault forces as well as air defense,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

According to Sergei Gurulev, there is strong confidence in implementing the plans of the ongoing five-year period in the defense industries sector. He also informed on further development plans in the sector, development of new armament and military hardware, export volumes.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that it makes no sense to focus solely on aircraft upgrade and repairs. Belarus needs to move on and start producing new aircraft that will sell well on the market. “Belarus should produce airplanes and helicopters,” the Belarusian leader said.

The head of state noted that there is a suitable site in Orsha to produce helicopters. “What does it mean to produce a helicopter in Orsha? It is not a problem if we have Motor Sich there and engines. We have the engines, so we only need to buy additionally a couple of sophisticated devices that we probably do not need to produce locally. Other things needed to make a frame are already there,” the President said.

“Secondly, we should also start manufacturing airplanes. It is up to you to decide what kind of airplanes we will produce. The key point is that these airplanes should sell well the market, first of all, the Russian market,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.

When speaking with representatives of the company’s labor collective, the President pointed out that Belarus has made little headway in terms of new technologies and solutions. “We need to move forward and develop an airplane, even if this will not be 100% Belarusian airplane. We need to actively cooperate with Russia and other states,” the Belarusian leader believes.

The head of state emphasized that other, more powerful states, also opted for cooperation. Among them is Airbus. “Therefore, we should realize that we will hardly be able to develop our own aircraft – civil or military aircraft - all alone. If we decide to produce some aircraft, it should be a really advanced product that we could use and sell on the market. This is quite a challenge and we will hardly be able to handle it alone. We do not have the necessary capacity, financial and human resources. And probably we should not even set this task. However, we should definitely develop some aircraft in cooperation with Russia and other states,” the President said.

At the same time the head of state noted that upgrade and repairs still remain important for Belarus, because not everyone can afford buying new aircraft. “Therefore, we will develop this line of business, we are doing pretty well here,” the Belarusian leader noted. There are plans to increase the degree of localization and start producing the necessary aggregates in Belarus.

“We should not make junk,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.

The President also believes that it is necessary to expand cooperation with Ukraine in defense industry matters. “Ukraine is virtually destroyed at present but the defense industry there 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 centers, designers in Ukraine. The time is as good as any,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“Europeans and other ones are also interested in working with us these days,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated.

“Therefore, we should exploit the moment not only for ourselves but also for foreign markets and the Russian Federation,” the Belarusian leader added.

Speaking about the attention that Belarus pays to the Armed Forces, the head of state said: “We should feed and take good care of our army.”

“The recent events indicate that any country needs an army. And now only fools may criticize me for paying close attention to the development of the Belarusian army,” the Belarusian leader remarked.

Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded about old suggestions that Belarus should follow the example of other countries and virtually get rid of its own army. “It turns out we need one. Thank god that we’ve been able to keep up with times as good as we could. We always improve our army regardless of what local wars occur on the planet,” the head of state stressed.

“We are no aggressors. We don’t want to war with anyone. But if someone invades, we should be ready to cause unacceptable damage to the aggressor. It is our defense doctrine,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The President reminded that he had instructed to upgrade ten aircraft for the Belarusian Air Force. “And another ten when you are done with these. But we should keep the Air Force in tiptop shape to avoid the sad experience of brotherly Ukrainians. When they had to go to war, it turned out they had no army,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “Yanukovych told me that they had about 250,000 men over a year ago. But when they were needed, there was no army,” he added.

Aleksandr Lukashenko examined the manufacturing premises of the aircraft repair factory, was made familiar with the state and prospects of the development of Belarusian defense enterprises, and visited the shop where unmanned aerial vehicles are assembled. “UAVs are the future. They can be used for recon, assault systems that we are going to create and are creating today. Good designers are available,” the President remarked.

In the near future the head of state also intends to visit a similar enterprise that upgrades and repairs armored vehicles in Borisov. “I’ll go there soon. The same tasks will be assigned. It is high time we stopped painting and polishing vehicle bodies. Time for a change. It is necessary to transit to a new stage,” the head of state said. “We should create armored vehicles of our own because, I am told, private companies already make ultra modern armored vehicles while major enterprises rest on old laurels,” he added.

“This is why I have to shake you up a bit here and in Borisov so that we could work more effectively now and in the future,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The head of state discussed some other matters with the personnel of the company, in particular, the possibility to carry out denomination.

“We will do it when the proper time comes. I have already told you that this currency was printed long time ago,” the President said.

“We need a proper moment for it, proper time for the economy to start working and when there is certain stability in the country,” the Belarusian leader remarked.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that the denomination process is a pure technicality. The President called for the Belarusian people to refrain from frequent visits to currency exchangers and spend the national currency on necessary purchases in stores.

Top on the agenda was also the progress in the spring sowing campaign, social and economic development of the region. The President was informed about these issues by Brest Oblast Governor Konstantin Sumar.