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Kadex 2014 in Astana Kazakhstan


Kazakhstan has ambitious plans to beef up its military, and defence contractors are more than willing to oblige.

Buyers and sellers gathered together at the recent defence expo, KADEX. In addition to buying new weapons.

Kazakhstan also hopes to manufacture them in the near future





Like all post-Soviet countries, Kazakhstan's military is armed primarily with Russian and Soviet equipment. But it's trying to diversify its sources for armaments, part of a broad foreign policy that Nazarbayev calls “multivector diplomacy,” or balancing relations with various powers so as to not be too dependent on one. And the defence expo, KADEX, is an attempt to stimulate business with new partners. While Russian companies are still the dominant foreign exhibitors at KADEX, they're not the only player in town.

There where so many Turkish companies that they have their own pavilion, and Israel is also well represented. Airbus contributed with its C-295 and A400M military transport planes and Russia’s showcased its multi-role Su-30SM and MiG-35 fighter aircraft.  .

Two Airbus Helicopters EC145s from Kazakhstan where displayed at this year’s KADEX defence exposition. The helicopters, one operated by the Ministry of Defence and another with the Ministry of Emergency Situations, are part of 45 twin-engine rotorcraft being acquired by the government.

This fleet build-up is supported by Euro copter Kazakhstan Engineering, a joint venture of Airbus Helicopters and the Kazakhstan Engineering state company, which assembles EC145s and is developing local maintenance and training capabilities to support their operations in the country, as well as across the region’s new Eurasian Economic Community customs union and throughout central Asia.

Su-25s displaying the colours of the Kazakhstani flag
A formation of Su-27s, gave a distant display over the edge of the airfield .


Kazakhstan is by far the largest of the Central Asian states of the former Soviet Union. It has borders with Russia, China, and the Central Asian countries of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. Kazakhstan gained its independence from the former Soviet Union on 16 December 1991. In 1998, the capital was moved from the south eastern city of Almaty to the northern city of Astana .

Kazakhstan possesses vast reserves of natural resources and fossil fuels, many of which are untapped. Globally, Kazakhstan ranks in the top ten countries for coal, oil, gas, chrome, zinc and bauxite reserves. Kazakhstan possesses about 19 per cent of world uranium reserves, eight per cent of zinc, seven per cent of manganese and four per cent of iron ore.  A Steadily rising natural gas production has turned Kazakhstan from a net importer to a net exporter over the past few years

Kazakhstan inherited nuclear-tipped missiles, a nuclear weapon test site, and biological and chemical weapon production facilities when the Soviet Union collapsed. In its first decade of independence, Kazakhstan dismantled and destroyed Soviet weapons systems and facilities left on
its territory, and signed major international non-proliferation treaties
A other legacy from the cold war period is the active space industry in Kazakhstan and the inherited Baikonur Cosmodrome from the Soviet Union.
Baikonur is used for international space launches, including all Russian launches to the International Space Station (ISS). Additionally, Russia leases a segment of the Baikonur Cosmodrome for ballistic missile testing

In the late 1980s - early 1990s. with the collapse of the Warsaw Treaty Organization and the implementation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, the Soviet Air Force fleet has undergone a significant reduction. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991,aircraft and personnel of the Soviet Air Forces – the VVS were divided among the newly independent states. Russia received the majority of the most modern fighters and 65% of the manpower. The major commands of the former Soviet VVS – the Long Range Aviation, Military Transport Aviation and Frontal Aviation were renamed, with few changes, Russian VVS commands. However, many regiments, aircraft, and personnel were claimed by the republics they were based in, forming the core of the new Kazakhstani air forces.


Participating in de demo

The multi-role SU-30SM.

A An-74 tranport.
The Mi-17 from the boarder guard.

Economic power

Kazakhstan has ambitions to not only buy weapons, but to sell them as well. Kazakhstan also wants to diversify its economy, so that it's not too dependent on oil and gas. And the armaments industry is one of the sectors it has chosen to promote. It has a defence industry left over from the Soviet period, but it is small and its products far from cutting-edge. So Kazakhstan is enticing foreign companies to set up joint ventures with local firms, building factories in Kazakhstan and getting the foreign engineers to train local staff and to offer up their blueprints so that Kazakhs will eventually be able to build the armaments themselves.

It's not a setup the foreign companies relish – they make more money by simply selling equipment directly. But Kazakhstan's growing wealth has led to ambitious military modernization plans, and foreign firms see a potentially lucrative market. And it's a measure of Kazakhstan's clout that the companies are buying in. Next to the airfield where KADEX is being held, a brand new factory has rising up, painted with a sign reading “Eurocopter Kazakhstan Engineering.” It's a joint venture between the European helicopter manufacturer and Kazakhstan's state-owned defence holding company.
And there is much more such cooperation: French firm Thales is making military communications equipment, Turkish company Aselsan night-vision devices and Spanish firm Indra radars – all in Kazakhstan.

The Caspian Sea, bordering four ex-Soviet states and Iran, has become known over the past twenty years as the site of significant new oil and natural gas discoveries. But more recently, the sea has seen a quiet arms build-up as well. Every one of the littoral states has made significant moves to bolster their naval might (in the cases of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, building navies from scratch) explaning the amount of navel contractors at KADEX 2014.

Kazakhstan is one of the largest operators of Russian-made helicopters in the region. The republic's armed forces, police, and rescue services operate all the main models of helicopter produced by Russian Helicopters: the military transport and search and rescue configurations of the Mi-8/17 series, the Ka-32A11BC coaxial multirole helicopter, the Mi-24V gunship helicopter and the Mi-26(T) heavy transport helicopter. So Russia is aming to sell its latest versions of helicopters at the show.

KADEX isn't only about business, it's also a chance for the government to show off its growing might to its citizens. The final two days of the expo was open to the public, and some Kazakhstan's people came the airfield, admiring the high-tech foreign gear and posing for photos next to their country's tanks and helicopters. Fighter jets did aerobatics and Kazakh paratroopers showed off their manoeuvres in a display of force .


During the air show several government transport arrived at Astana airport. Including where these two Tu-134 a aircraft type not often seen in the western part off Europe, let alone two Kazakhstani government one's .




In contrast to the previous years the static was not filled with the different fighter types of the Kazakhstan Air Force. This year the static was more tuned to the sale part of the show a logical thing for the organisers. But disappointing for the aviation enthusiast that came from all over to see the show, de distant flying display made things not much better.



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