Rostec helping to de-mine the shelf
The news that Rostec will begin assembling disposable robots for neutralization of explosive items in Russia for the navy was revealed by a source close to the corporation. According to the source, the negotiations on the joint assembly of such vehicles are Russia is being led by the Prominvest and the French company ENA Robotics (included in the ECA Group).
In the winter, the parties plan to sign an agreement of industrial cooperation for the production of shaped-charge warhead explosion-proof devices and control systems to undermine those, as well as for the assembly of devices on the territory of Russia, Kommersant’s source said. Additionally, another source of Kommersant familiar with the situation said that the initiative to create such a device came from the Navy Main Command.
"It's not just robots. We talk about the production of remote-controlled vehicles for the disposal of explosive items,” another source familiar with the negotiations told Kommersant. The foreign partner will supply Russia with dissembled parts of the units, and, in Russia, they will not only be assembled but also equipped with Russian instruments, connected to the control system (domestic know-how) and installed on the searcher ship.
As a platform for the assembly, the Novosibirsk nongovernmental organization Luch (which is led by Prominvest) is being considered. The PR service of Rostec confirmed this to Kommersant and also said that "the specific form of cooperation is too early to be discussed, as there are a number of issues that need to be addressed."
ECA Group, founded in 1936, develops, produces and maintains robots and remote-operated vehicles that operate in hostile environments, including underwater mine neutralization. The largest shareholders are Group Gorge (53.4 percent) and Delta Lloyd (9.6 percent). In addition, 33.5 percent is in circulation in the stock market. Capitalization of the company equals €72 million ($97.2 million), the revenue in 2012 was €98.8 million, and the net profit was €5.1 million.
The initiative came from the Navy Main Command, but the machines planned for assembly are intended not only for military purposes, asserts Kommersant’s source. "The product is of interest to Russian companies, which are leading oil and gas production on the shelf for seabed surveys, for the subjects of presence of mines in the places where war operations were conducted—and this includes nearly all of the Northern Sea," said the source, naming Rosneft and Gazprom as potential customers.
Gazprom is unlikely to purchase vehicles for mining on the shelf, believes the head of one of the companies involved in the production of such devices. The company is not interested in acquiring this kind of technology, since it usually hires a foreign contractor who conducts a comprehensive study of the bottom topography, including de-mining. Kommersant sources close to Rosneft say that a number of joint projects are under consideration with Rostec. “A partnership could be established also in this area, as Rosneft is a major player on shelf-management,” said one source. Rosneft refused to give any official comments. Kommersant failed to obtain a comment from Gazprom, as well.
"With the production of mine engineering in Russia there are difficulties associated with the fact that part of the production capacity after the collapse of the Soviet Union happened to stay outside of Russia—particularly in Kazakhstan," said Andrei Frolov, the chief editor of the magazine Export of Weaponry. According to him, during the last International Maritime Defense Show in St. Petersburg, an agreement was signed for the supply of two offshore trawlers (minesweepers) for the Project 10750E in Kazakhstan, which is equipped with the ECA Robotics production of sonar systems.
The expert noted that the co-production of anti-mine vehicles with the French may come down to “screwdriver assembly.” This is what happened with cooperation on the production of TV sets with Thales, said Frolov, and "it is unlikely that, in this case, it will be something completely new."
Based on materials from Kommersant.