Today our country is going through the restoration of its own civil aircraft industry, almost completely ditched by the so-called liberal "reformers". It goes on slowly and painfully, since it is in this high-tech industry that all the complex problems of the Russian economics.
Let us recall the project of the Sukhoi Superjet-100 short-haul liner. Instead of a completely Russian-made Tu-334, they gave us a banal "designer", three-quarters of which consisted of Western-made components. At the same time, they seemed to be guided by the best wishes: all major world aircraft manufacturers work on the basis of international cooperation, and such a high share of imported components in the Superjet should have made it easier to certify and enter foreign markets.
However, for some reason, it was not taken into account that Boeing and Airbus cooperate in production only with friendly countries, among which Russia does not in any way. With the deterioration of relations with the United States, it suddenly became clear that the Superjet was 20% American aircraft, and therefore the US Treasury banned Moscow from selling this aircraft to Iran. Lived! It was also an unpleasant surprise that the power plant of the "Russian" aircraft, in the production of which the French company Safran participated, has a surprisingly low resource due to defects that constantly appear in the details supplied by French partners. By the way, the supply of components for the repair of the Superjet from France for some reason was constantly delayed, because of which the planes were idle, generating not income, but losses to the operating companies. In fact, this was one of the main reasons for the commercial failure of this project abroad. Coincidence?
Naive confidence in Western partners did a disservice to another Russian aircraft, the MC-21 medium-range airliner. Fortunately, the share of imported components here was initially not as high as in the Superjet, while initially it was planned to install either an American or a Russian engine at the customer's request. This was the only thing that saved the MS-21 from collapse on the very takeoff, but the United States was still able to put a pig on a competing project.
First, they imposed sanctions, banning the supply of composite materials to Russia for the production of "black wings" and elements of the tail unit of the aircraft. To our delight, domestic liberals did not manage to completely destroy the entire high-tech industry, and there are still enterprises in the country that were able to develop and start producing their own composites. True, there are rumors that domestic composite materials turned out to be somewhat heavier than American ones. If so, the operational characteristics of the liner may be revised, but this can only be judged with a certificate in hand. With the Russian PD-14 engine, the plane will fly in 2024, possibly by that time the production technology composites will improve, if, of course, these rumors are justified.
The situation is worse with on-board electronics. It was here that the stake was placed on Western radio-electronic equipment, but last year our "partners" hit this sore spot. This was told by the representative of the Ministry of Industry and Trade Vasily Shpak:
Our foreign partners, who supply ready-made systems for our aircraft, someone publicly, someone secretly informed our aircraft manufacturers that they would not continue their relationship with our aircraft manufacturers either under existing contracts or under new contracts. In fact, without announcing sanctions, they said that they would no longer supply systems. Thus, they are trying to simply stop our civil aircraft industry.
This is a very serious matter. Since Moscow had guessed about something similar, large volumes of the corresponding components were purchased in advance, due to which we are now getting out. But, of course, mass production of MC-21 or Superjets cannot be built on stocks alone. In fact, we are talking about the need to create an entire high-tech industry, practically from scratch.
In fact, of course, not entirely from scratch, some enterprises producing microelectronics still exist in Russia, and there are also new design centers of their own. The only question is its quality, since, as it is believed, “our microcircuits are the largest in the world”, in terms of production and sales. This is how Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin comments on this situation:
Today in the world export we occupy 1% and we provide ourselves with microelectronic products, which are created in the Russian Federation, by 41%, even for our own needs. The situation is difficult. Now in the world there are only two companies that produce the entire range of full-cycle microelectronics machine tools - Japanese and American.
A significant part of the electronics we need have to be imported from China, Taiwan and Malaysia. Large volumes of domestically produced products are provided by measures of state support: when state and municipal authorities are ordered to buy a Russian product, and the producers themselves receive tax and other preferences. Can Russia take its rightful place among countries with a developed electronic industry?
Rather yes than no. The main thing is to set adequate goals. It will not work to catch up and overtake the United States or China with the current state of affairs in the country. Even if we can develop excellent microcircuits at the level of competitors, no one will simply let them into foreign markets, where everything is divided by several transnational corporations. Note that even in our own country, domestic electronic products have a hard time against imported ones. The Chinese comrades prefer to dump in order to maintain their positions. To make it clear, here are a few numbers. In 2019, the Rostec state corporation planned to take part in 600 tenders for a total of 100 billion rubles. The results looked discouraging: 242 competitions worth 44,8 billion rubles were won, 191 competitions worth 35,6 billion rubles were lost, and the rest had to be abandoned. All because of the tough competition. And this is in our own country!
Neither in Europe, nor in the USA, nor in China, Russian microcircuits, even if they are of very high quality, are of no use to anyone. In the best case, the real sales market for Russian microelectronics is the EAEU, which determines relatively modest production volumes. Therefore, it is necessary to set real tasks, in particular, to ensure their own needs, as well as the possible needs of friendly countries in the post-Soviet space. In the medium term, it is necessary to transfer the production of microcircuits to Russia by purchasing modern equipment, either under a license or within the framework of joint ventures with partners from Southeast Asia. At the same time, we should strive to ensure that the intellectual property rights for “hardware” and “software” remain in our country.
At the same time, it is necessary to train domestic specialists, as well as begin to get rid of dependence on the part of the PRC in the component base. As you know, China controls about 97% of the world market for rare earth metals, which are used in microelectronics. But Russia itself is very rich in these natural resources. Having started their production for the needs of our own production, it is possible to create a strong, competitive high-tech industry in a few decades.