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Eugene Gerden

Expert Opinion

3rd May 2018, Moscow

Russia to invest $250 million in technical textiles for defence

The Russian government plans to allocate up to US$ 250 million in the design and production of nonwovens and technical textiles for the needs of the Russian military forces during the next several years, according to recent statements of some senior officials of the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The production will begin following the special state orders, details of some of which will not be disclosed to the public. The majority of funding for the project will be provided from the Russian military budget, which is estimated at around US$ 70 billion for 2018 –  the highest in the history of modern Russia. It is planned that most of the funds will be invested in the design of special materials, based on technical textiles, which will be used in the production of military uniform clothing and other military equipage for Russian soldiers, including those, who are currently deployed in Syria and other Middle Eastern states.

Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s Defence Minister and one of major initiators for development of innovative textile materials for needs of defence. © Eugene Gerden

The names of the enterprises that will participate in the project are currently not disclosed, however, according to sources close to the Russian Ministry of Defence, these will be Russia’s largest producers of technical textiles and nonwovens, which have previously supplied their products to Western markets, European, in particular.

The project also involves acceleration of the R&D activities in the industry, involving some of Russia’s leading research institutions in the field of technical textiles and nonwovens, as well as the country’s leading technical universities, such as Bauman Moscow State Technical University – the Russia’s oldest and largest technical university, which has been conducting R&D activities in the field of nonwovens and technical textiles since the 1990s.

According to an official spokesman of Denis Manturov, Russia’s Minister of Industry and Trade, the majority of these R&D activities will be classified. As part of these plans, the Russian Defence Ministry plans to attract some well-known Western experts in the field of technical textiles that will participate in R&D activities in the industry.

In recent years, the demand for nonwovens and technical textiles from the Russian military and defence industries has significantly increased, which is also due to ongoing militarisation in the country. This has provided a significant impetus for the industry and created conditions for its further growth after stagnation, caused by the economic crisis in the country and Western sanctions.

Inside Steklonit, one of Russia's leading producers of technical textiles. © Eugene Gerden

According to Denis Manturov, in recent years, the Russian defence industry has become one of the largest consumers of nonwovens and technical textiles in Russia and it is expected that its share in the overall structure of consumption will continue to grow during the next several years at higher rates.

In the meantime, leading Russian producers have already welcomed the new state initiative, hoping that its implementation may result in the generation of additional profits, which is especially important due to ongoing stagnation of medical, construction and other sectors of the Russian economy, which to date, have accounted for the majority of technical textile and nonwovens’ consumption in Russia.

Prior to 2017, the Russian technical textiles industry has experienced an acute shortage of funding, caused by a significant decline of investment attractiveness of the industry, however, thanks to the ever-growing demand from the defence industry, there is a possibility that such a situation will be significantly improved already in the coming years.

In the meantime, according to the Russian Association of Textile and Light Industry Producers, a public association, which unites Russia’s leading technical textiles and nonwovens producers, the government’s decision to invest funds in the development of technical textiles for the needs of defence will be a response to the recent announcement of the US to invest US$ 75 million in the design of new technical textile and nonwoven materials for military purposes.

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