The scandal in Washington surrounding the issue of military aid from the U.S. for Ukraine had no dampening effect on the participation at this year’s national defense expo, Arms and Security 2019. The event was the largest on record and filled almost the entire expo center in Kiev’s left bank district, and remained well-attended for all four of its scheduled days.

This year’s expo was notable in that it offered far more than just the products that Ukraine’s defense sector has become well-known for. In some surprise developments, Ukrainian capacity for innovation has resulted in new products that put the country into the category of being fluent with several defense technologies that few nations have mastered.

Ukrainian industry suffers from having very few orders from its own armed forces. The firms that have the capacity to develop new products have become almost entirely dependent on their own internal investment and/or export orders to advance the state-of-the-art of their product lines.


The most wide-ranging set of advanced products comes from the Ukrainian firm Radionix, which has developed a complete set of improvements for the Mikoyan MiG-29 and Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30 series of fighters.

The company’s products fall into three basic categories. One is a new fire-control radar that can replace the MiG-29’s Phazotron N019 and the Su-27’s NIIP N001 and N011M series. The company was showing the radar set with a mechanically steered array (MSA) but said that there can be an active electronically scanning array (AESA) provided to the radar as part of a development path.

The radar, designated “Esmerelda,” is built with modern, solid-state components and can be scaled up or down to accommodate the size of the radome of the aircraft it is fitted to, said a company representative.

A second is a new solid-state, digital technology electronic warfare (EW) system designated Omut-KM. Company designers say it is equal in capability to the KNIRTI Khibiny EW suite used in different configurations on later-model Sukhoi aircraft.

Third, Radionix has developed improved versions of a passive, anti-radiation missile homing seeker that it has displayed only once before, a new infrared (IR) seeker, plus an X-band and Ka-band seeker that are both active radar-homing designs. These seekers can be fitted to the Artem-built models of the Vympel R-27 (AA-10) air-to-air missile. The Artem plant is in Kiev and continues to build the originally Russian-developed Vympel design bureau missile under its own license.

The company is currently exploring sales of these products to users of Russian-built aircraft, such as India, as retrofits for both the aircraft that are in New Delhi’s inventory, as well as for the arsenal of air-to-air missiles (AAM) that are used on these MiG and Su models. The missiles can have their older, semi-active radar-homing seekers and previous-generation IR homing heads replaced with these new Ukrainian designs.


A brand-new development comes from the Yuzhnoye ballistic missile bureau in Dnipro, Ukraine, which has completed the design of and is beginning to build prototypes for a new supersonic air-to-surface (ASM) weapon. The new missile, called Bliskavka, a Ukrainian word meaning “Lightning,” is designed to be an anti-ship and anti-radiation weapon in the class of the Russian-made Zvezda-Strela Kh-31.

Dnipro designers said it would be slightly faster than the Russian missile’s Mach 3.5 top speed and with a longer range. It is proposed in three variants similar to the Kh-31, using different seekers: an active-homing seeker for anti-ship missions; an electro-optical guidance system; and a third anti-radiation seeker for SAM suppression.

The missile is designed to be carried on the Su-24s still in the Ukrainian inventory, with the Su-27 a secondary launching platform. Fighters are “supposed to be engaged in the battle for control of the airspace, so it makes more sense for this missile to be fired from a larger, theater-range platform,” said the missile’s designer.

This missile and many of the other air defense, aircraft modernization and land-weapon options presented at this year’s expo highlight the difficulty facing Ukraine’s armed forces. They are facing a much larger, better-armed adversary in Russia and they have far fewer resources to bring to bear to modernize their own defenses.

“What Ukraine is faced with is the reality that there is no large volume of weaponry that will be provided to us by anyone else,” said one of the larger defense enterprise directors at the Kiev expo. “If we are to sustain a credible defense against Russian aggression, we are going to have to develop these and other kinds of weapons on our own.”