In late 2009, reports surfaced that a $2.5 billion defense agreement between the Ukraine and the Iraqi Ministry of Defense could involve 420 of Khariv Morozov’s BTR-4 8×8 wheeled armored personnel carriers, 6 of Antonov ASTC/ Aviant’s AN-32B light military transport planes, and repair work on 2 of Iraq’s Mi-8T military helicopters. These contracts are a significant boost to the Ukraine’s defense exports, and make that country one of Iraq’s top defense suppliers.
Contracts were signed, and manufacturing is underway, but the process has had its hangups and issues. Including inspection issues that delayed Iraqi acceptance of the deal’s key platforms. Now, deliveries are underway.
AN-32 Light Tactical Transports
The AN-32 offers good hot-weather and high-altitude performance, and is comparable to international competitors like the EADS-CASA C-295M and Alenia’s C27J Spartan. It would offer Iraq a mid-tier tactical transport alternative between its small fleets of King Air 350 light transports, and top-end C-130E/J Hercules heavy tactical transport aircraft.
The AN-32’s high placement of the engine nacelles above the wing allows bigger propellers, driven by 5,100 hp AI-20 turboprops that almost double the output of the related AN-26’s engines. As a result, the AN-32’s 14,750 pound/ 6,900 kg load capacity is almost 50% better than its AN-26 cousin’s, with a 1,050 km/ 650 mile range at full load. More important to customers like Iraq, it can take off with much higher load fractions in hot and/or high-altitude conditions.
The AN-32B-300 built by Aviant adds even more performance by using Rolls Royce AE2100D engines and GE Aviation Dowty R391 8-bladed propellers, the same combination used on Alenia’s C-27J. When combined with Rockwell Collins avionics and improved communications, this modernized aircraft offers a wide range of performance upgrades, including 20%+ improvements in fuel efficiency and range under maximum load, and increased maximum cargo weight of 7,500 kg.
Previous DSCA solicitations had included Poland’s M28 Skytruck light tactical transport, but the AN-32 offers both higher capacity, and a familiar option for an air force that has used AN-26 aircraft in the past.
AN-32 Light Tactical Transports
The Ukranian BTR-4 is a versatile modernized design with amphibious capabilities, which resembles the BTR-80 that Russia alleges was its design base. The BTR-4 is an update of the BTR-3, which was the subject of an Iraqi export request for 336 vehicles in October 2007. That request would have been assembled by an international consortium led by the United Arab Emirates’ ADCOM Manufacturing Company, in partnership with Ukraine’s Kharkiv Morozov and State Scientific Technical Centre of Artillery & Rifle Arms.
KMDB’s BTR-4 accommodates a wide range of weapon fits, and can support roles from ambulance to anti-armor and even assault gun functions. This article’s headline picture shows a BTR-4 in an Infantry Fighting Vehicle role, fitted with a Grom 30mm turret equipped with guided anti-armor missiles.
DJ Elliott, who prepared the recent “Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle: 2009-12,” notes the recent shift toward training Iraqi Special Operational Forces Strike Teams on older BTR-80s, adding that the amount of this order is about the right number to equip the planned number of ISOF strike teams. He later explains, however, that this is just the most likely of several possibilities; time will tell.
Contracts & Key Events
Dec 29/13 – Jan 14/14: BTR-4s. The SE Pacifica, which left Ukraine in March 2013 and was refused unloading in Iraq on April 25/13, returns to the Ukraine after passing back through the Suez Canal. If it sounds like the ship must have spent months floating aimlessly in the Gulf, that’s because the ship spent months floating aimlessly in the Gulf. A “source from the Ukrainian defense sector” wouldn’t comment on reports of hull cracks etc., and would only offer this:
“I can say only that, after the replacement of batteries and tanks with compressed air, the vehicles reached the necessary location at the port under their own power. The armored vehicles’ technical characteristics were confirmed after eight months’ exposure to adversarial climatic conditions…”
Sources: Interfax Ukraine, “3rd shipment of Ukrainian APCs intended for Iraq remains in neutral zone – source” | Defence Market Intelligence, “Iraq; Ukrainian BTR-4 shipment is rejected” | IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, “Iraqi BTR-4 shipment heads back to Ukraine”.
Sept 18/13: Numbers & issues. Welding errors and frame cracking have reportedly stopped Iraq’s acceptance of their BTR-4 APCs. Azerbaijan’s APA, “Azerbaijan refuses BTR-3 and BTR-4 armored personnel carriers offered by Ukraine”:
“The Iraqi government didn’t accept and sent back 42 BTR-4 armored personnel carriers laden ship departed from Ukraine in March this year…. According to Ukraine’s export control system, 40 BTR-4, 8 BTR-4K, 9 BTR-80UP-KR and 2 BTR-80UP-R were sold to Iraq in 2012. Iraq purchased 420 BTR, 80 BTR-4K command vehicles, 30 BTR-4Ksh command and staff vehicle, 30 BSEM-4K armored ambulances and 10 BREM-4 armored recovery vehicles from Ukraine within the agreement signed by Ukrspetseksport state-owned arms trading company in 2009.”
Oct 9/12: Big new competitor. Russia signs a $4.3 billion contract with Iraq for a variety of weapons, beginning with attack helicopters and air defense systems. That gives the Ukraine a formidable competitor for the non-American share of Iraq’s defense market. Read “Baby Come Back: Iraq is Buying Russian Weapons Again” for full coverage.
Oct 4/12: The 6th AN-32B arrives in Iraq. Iraqi MoD [in Arabic].
July 17/12: The Iraqi Air Force takes delivery of its 5th AN-32B, out of its contracted 6 planes. It lands at al-Muthanna AB, near Baghdad, Iraq. NINA.
Nov 4/11: The Kyiv Post quotes Antonov’s Dmytro Kiva, who says that Iraq has already signed technical acceptance documents for 2 AN-32s, and acceptance is expected for 2 more aircraft by the end of the year.
“We’ve already received payment for the first two planes,” he said, noting that the sides have already settled all technical issues under the contract. According to him, the construction of the remaining two An-32 aircraft for Iraq will start soon.”
May 20/11: The Kyiv Post reports that Anotonov may deliver 6 An-32 light transports to Iraq ahead of schedule, but they must first receive the money for planes #1-3:
“Three out of the six aircraft have been already assembled in Ukraine but haven’t been accepted by Iraqi side yet, Director of Antonov Serial Plant Mykola Podhrebelny told reporter. According to him, immediately after the enterprise receives the money for the first planes, they will start assembling the three remaining and may transfer them before 2012, which is a deadline set in the contract.”
An Iraqi inspection team rejected the 3 assembled aircraft in the fall of 2010, when they discovered that used avionics and engines had been used in violation of the contract. See also Jan 17/11 entry.
April 20/11: The first shipment of 26 BTR-4s are accepted (March 30/11) and then shipped (April 20/11) to Iraq.
This first shipment is reported to be 20 regular APCs, 4 command APCs and 2 medical APCs. The next shipment of 62 is planned to be ready by September 2011. KMBD re: acceptance | KMBD re: delivery | Kyiv Post.
March 24/11: Ukrspecexport and its Iraqi customer sign a document for the initial consignment of 26 BTR-4 vehicles. Delivery will now take place in April 2011, which is delayed from the original September 2010 date. Kyiv Post.
Feb 28/11: Interfax-Ukraine says that the Antonov State Enterprise in Kiev is ready to deliver Iraq’s first 2 An-32 light transport aircraft this week.
Antonov Enterprise Deputy General Designer Oleksandr Kiva said that Iraqi experts are expected this week to take delivery, and discuss ancillary equipment options. If that goes well this time, he added that Iraq could get another 4 planes by the end of 2011. Kyiv Post.
Jan 17/11: Interfax reports that the 1st shipment of 26 BTR-4s is scheduled for February 2011, after Iraq refused to accept the initial vehicles. Interfax says only that:
“Ukraine and Iraq suspended the supplies for full testing of the armored personnel carriers to tactical and technical characteristics. The administration of the Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau put the blame on gun producers from Kamianets-Podilsky. The shortcomings were exposed when Iraqis were examining the armored personnel carriers… The Progress foreign trade company, a subsidiary of Ukrspecexport, signed the over $550 million contract with Iraq in 2009.”
Other reports indicate that the Ukrainians may have tried to deliver the initial AN-32s with used engines and avionics, and that used items were also the problem with the BTRs. As a result, neither item made it to the Army Day parade. Ukrspetsexport denies the reports.
Dec 9/09: The Associated Press quotes former Ukrainian defense minister and current head of the Ukrainian parliament’s security and defense committee Anatoly Grytsenko, regarding the $2.5 billion deal. Grystenko was briefed on the deal Wednesday by state arms exporter UkrSpetsExport, which is handling the contracts. He says that the deals have been agreed but remain to be formalized in a signed contract, and will be carried out in stages, with Stage 1 being worth about $400 million. The Ukraine is likely to supply its first batch of military equipment in 2010.
The Kyiv Post places the initial deal’s value at $550 million instead, quoting Ukrspetseksport’s first deputy director general Oleksandr Kovalenko, who added that Ukrspetseksport concluded the contract with Iraqi companies 2 months ago. That report cited 10 AN-32s, and “over 400” armored vehicles delivered over 3.5 years. Contracts have been signed for BTR-4 APCs and An-32 planes, but the Ukraine also hopes to sell Iraq its T-84 “Oplot” tanks. In “Projection and Analysis,” DJ Elliott explains that ISOF deployment is just the most likely of 7 deployment possibilities, and proceeds to list them all.
Nov 19/09: Rumors surface that Iraq will be buying AN-32 aircraft from the Kiev State Aircraft Plant “Aviant” for about $80 million. According to AKNews, The Iraqi Air Force will receive the first aircraft in about 8 months, after export approval is granted. Their source says that Iraq has chosen to purchase the AN-32s because they are adapted for hot and mountainous climates. Which is true, as customers like India and Afghanistan will attest.
Nov 9/09: Ukraine’s national news agency reports that:
“Ukraine is currently holding negotiations with Iraq on supplying the An-32 aircrafts, Industrial Policy Minister Volodymyr Novytsky has said. According to him, talks are also in progress with Libya on supplies and creation of an Antonov service center.”
* KMBD – BTR-4 Armored Personnel Carrier
* Antonov – The AN-32 Light Multi-Purpose Transport Aircraft
* Kiev Aviation Plant “Aviant” – An-32 Family Transport Aircraft
* Moscow Defence Brief (#4 2012) – The Exodus of Ukraine’s Defense Industry. Tax avoidance, offshoring, and more.
* Montrose Toast (April 9/10) – The Ukrainian Arms Sale Speculation Revisited
* DID (Dec 9/09) – Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle: 2009-12
* DID (Oct 7/07) – $2.257B for Iraqi Army Guns, Vehicles & Logistics. Includes their DSCA request for BTR-3E1s.