Russian GLONASS became a victim of US sanctions

"Roskosmos" disrupted the program of building satellites.
Origin source
The authorities will postpone the launch of serial production of Glonass-K satellites. For them, there are not enough imported parts, the supplies of which are limited due to the sanctions. As a result, we are witnessing another failure of the import substitution program. Does Russia need to continue trying to establish its own production of components, or should we recognize that the division of labor in the world is inevitable?

In the period from 2012 to 2020, a total of 320 billion rubles was allocated for the development of GLONASS. It was assumed that during this time should be made 15 satellites "Glonass-M" and 22 "Glonass-K".

Dual purpose systems

Rumors that the launch of mass production of satellites will be postponed appeared a year ago. But "Roskosmos" then promised that the new devices "Glonass" will appear in time. The space department promised to reduce foreign components to 10% by 2022, and by 2025 to get rid of them completely.

Components for GLONASS fell under the sanctions of the European Union and the United States in 2014 as “parts for dual-use systems”, since the satellites can be used for military purposes. But for some time it was possible to buy electronics. However, in August last year, the United States finally stopped issuing licenses for the sale of dual-use products to Russian state-owned enterprises, labeled “National Security”. This includes avionics, electronic components, microcircuits, satellite communication systems.

In the Glonass-M satellites there were 75–80% of Western components. It is obvious that the import substitution program did not help the new generation Glonass-K systems either. As a result, it seems that the vigorous statements about how we will defeat all enemies, everything in the world will replace import and develop our own high-tech industry, remain in the past. Now officials more often say that global cooperation is still a normal consequence of the development of global processes. In the end, the same Boeing fly on the engines of the French Safran. Completely avoid the division of labor today can only North Korea. The question is, at what cost, and whether we really want to repeat her experience.

The problems are not only GLONASS. Dozens of Superjet 100 planes are on the ground because they are 70% made from imports. Recently, the Americans stopped supplying composites for the production of our MS-21 aircraft, which should become a competitor to Boeing and Airbus. Officials promise that we will replace the composites with our own, but mass production was again postponed.

What to do in a sanctions regime? “The way out is either to continue to develop this area and make our technologies, and it’s not known how long it will take and is very expensive, or to return to old devices that could work without this electronics, and this is a deterioration in the quality group,” the scientific director of the Space Policy Institute believes Ivan Moses.

Super weapon depends on import

Why, after all, we can not quickly establish production of electronics? This problem is rooted in the Soviet past. Even then, we were lagging behind other countries in high-tech areas, from the production of tape recorders to aircraft manufacturing. The development was hampered by the absence of the USSR as capacious a market as in the countries of the West, which, in turn, can be explained by political reasons.
At the same time, all the achievements in the field of defense, of which we are proud, also come from the USSR.

The country goes on the old Soviet baggage, taking advantage of developments that were started before the restructuring. In the 2000s, Russia had a chance to make a technological breakthrough, but it did not, preferring to import components. Over the past 20 years, problems have only worsened.

Now we have realized it.

Probably, the launch of mass production of Glonass satellites of the new generation was also decided to be suspended because the shortcomings of their work will be immediately visible. Is it a matter of secret military developments for which you can allocate as many billions of rubles, and no one really knows what is really happening to them. Meanwhile, experts suspect that the creation of a new weapon, which Putin announced in 2018, is completely dependent on foreign supplies. Take, for example, the Avangard rocket, which, as the president said, can outwit any missile defense system. Experts say that the rocket is created using the multifunction calibrator ASC-400-R, produced by the American company Ametek Inc. Sources refer to customs documents, according to which American imports account for 7% of the defense budget of Russia and over the past three years have decreased by only 0.4%. True, now that the United States has tightened the rules, the situation may change. However, politics is politics, and business is business: it is beneficial for American companies to cooperate with Russia, and they can find ways around the restrictions.

Could, when they wanted

In fairness it should be noted: not so simple. If the Soviet Union was turned off from the global division of labor, then this cannot be said about Russia. American spaceships fly on Russian RD-181 rocket engines. Last year, the American concern Orbital ATK purchased rocket engines from the Russian Energomash, despite the fact that this contradicts the sanction policy of the US State Department. The term of the contract - until 2021. The supply agreement was signed after the adoption of the next sanctions package, which just provides for a ban on the supply of high-tech products. The US space industry depends on Russia, which has been repeatedly noted by the US Congress. This gives Moscow a certain lever for pressure.

But, from a philistine point of view, it is better not to fight for imports, but to develop our own production, at least in the field of defense. It is difficult for an ordinary person to understand why we buy components for super-weapons from our potential adversary. It is hard for an average person to believe that we cannot do something. It seems that just do not want, lack of political will. Another thing when it comes to the possibility of getting money. Take, for example, a system for charging trucks, which we managed to create in record time: for a year. Apparently, there was a strong motivation - the collection of money. By the way, Rosavtodor initially planned to create a system with the participation of the French Vinci, the Italian Autostrade, the German Siemens and the Slovak Skytoll, but because of the change in the political vector, the project was entrusted to the Russian company.

But collecting money from drivers is one thing, but we still have not learned how to make gas turbines for thermal power plants: a prototype broke down in tests. Therefore, we buy the products of the German Siemens.


Recently, Sergey Savelyev, Deputy Director General for Roskosmos for International Cooperation, spoke at the International Air Show in Le Bourget about the impact of sanctions on project implementation. He noted that the sanctions "slightly" affect the international space projects where Russia participates, but they have problems with the implementation of purely national programs.