In Response To Militant Attacks, Kazakhstan Announces New Military Aircraft Plans
Kazakhstan has announced that it intends to buy new military transport aircraft in response to the militant attack in the western city of Aktobe last week.
Kazakhstan Prime Minister Karim Massimov announced the planned aircraft purchase as part of a series of measures including improving security in airports and train stations and creating an interagency working group on countering extremism and terrorism.
"The prime minister has ordered the Ministry of Defence together with the State Security Committee, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Finance to submit a proposal within a week on the acquisition of heavy-lift military transport aircraft," according to a statement on the government website. The statement didn't provide any more details.
This is a relatively unusual move for Kazakhstan, to announce a military procurement program so clearly in response to a single event, and it underscores the level of concern that Astana is clearly feeling about its ability to deal with these sorts of situations. The Aktobe attacks on June 5 (whose targets included a National Guard base) clearly caught the authorities wrongfooted, and the security services' response has been found wanting.
Kazakhstan has already put a high priority on military transport aircraft, which are especially important for a sparsely populated country like Kazakhstan to quickly ships troops and equipment to where they're needed. It has already acquired four C-295 military transport planes from Airbus, with an option to buy more. But the government's use of "heavy-lift" in the announcement suggests that they are looking for something bigger.
Airbus displayed its A400M aircraft, which could fit the bill, at the 2014 version of KADEX, Kazakhstan's defense expo, and Airbus officials said then that Kazakhstan was considering buying it. Nothing more seems to have been reported since then and at KADEX 2016, which was held just a few days before the Aktobe attacks, it is telling that there was little public discussion of the A400M.
There was, however, some discussion between Russia and Kazakhstan on transport aircraft: "The Kazakh side expresses interest to our new products, especially to Il-76MD-90A, to Il-78, as well as to Il-112. Today we have conducted preliminary negotiations," General Director of Russia's Ilyushin Aviation Complex Sergey Velmozhkin told reporters at KADEX.