Legendary fighter jet maker MiG will merge with rival Sukhoi manufacturer Irkut, a top government official said Friday.
"MiG and Irkut will form an ideal structure and that is what we want," Federal Industry Agency chief Boris Alyoshin said as he presented Irkut CEO Alexei Fyodorov as MiG's new chief executive.
Fyodorov was given his second company to run after MiG general director Valery Toryanin was fired on Sept. 25, leading to speculation that the government had finally decided to push forward with stalled plans to consolidate the industry.
"The change in leadership is first of all connected to the ongoing consolidation of [the industry] and MiG cannot stand aside from it," Alyoshin said, Interfax reported. "These two companies have to be together."
Konstantin Makiyenko, deputy head of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, an independent defense think tank, called the move historic.
"September 25th marked the most important event in the post-Soviet history of Russian aircraft manufacturing. Merging MiG and Irkut is the beginning of OAK," he said, referring to the Russian acronym for the Unified Aircraft-Building Corp., a holding company Irkut has long been pushing the government to create.
Under the plan, which is backed by Alyoshin, privately controlled Irkut and state-run MiG, Sukhoi, Tupolev and Ilyushin will all be brought under one roof. But how that will be done is still up in the air and Sukhoi, Tupolev and Ilyushin are taking a wait-and-see attitude. "It all depends on how the companies are unified," said Alexander Zatuchny, adviser to Tupolev president Igor Shevchuk.
When at MiG, Toryanin was a vocal opponent of the plan, arguing that it was just an excuse to redistribute property and divert cash from future sales to companies whose export contracts are about to expire.
Alyoshin said Toryanin was fired for not being "effective enough, pointing to MiG's failure to fulfill "a few international contracts." He did not elaborate.
Meanwhile, Fyodorov, the industry's new top gun, told Interfax he was already at work analyzing MiG's research and development programs and its entire product range. He said the goal is to create a powerful new company able to compete globally while providing for the needs of Russia's armed forces.