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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Aerospace Industry Gets Backing

Russia will continue to develop its military aerospace industry even if factories are virtually idle for the next five years, according to a senior Russian defense official.

Sergei Fedoseyev, spokesman for the deputy minister of defense, this week told a conference on converting the aerospace industry to civilian purposes that factories would be maintained at present levels, both in workforce and size.

He said Russia would preserve the military complex until a commercial use could be found for its high-tech skills in aeronautics, satellites and rocketry.

"We will have them making teapots", he told The Moscow Times. "But at the moment we cannot afford to close them down".

He said deals had already been signed selling Russian aerospace expertise to Western firms including Rolls Royce and British Aerospace.

To boost the Russian satellite industry. President Boris Yeltsin recently signed a decree lifting some of the secrecy provisions that restricted access to information from satellites.

Civilian users now have access to detailed aerial surveys which were previously for military use only.

Deputy industry minister Boris Lapshov told a press conference Tuesday it could take 15 years to complete the conversion process.

He said Russia would not promote conversion if it meant the loss of scientific skills.

"If we start to produce frying pans, then the scientific potential we have will not be used". Lapshov said.

Mikhail Maley, Yeltsin's adviser on conversion, told the same conference it would cost about $150 billion to convert 70 percent of Russia's military industrial complex to civilian use.