. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

MiG Director Dismissed

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov sacked the director of the state-owned manufacturer of MiG fighter jets, as recommended last week by the Russian Aviation and Space Agency, Rosaviakosmos, Interfax reported late Tuesday, citing the government information department.

It was not clear who would replace Nikolai Nikitin at RSK MiG. Interfax, citing unnamed defense industry sources, said the head of the state-owned main arms-exporting agency Rosoboronexport, Andrei Belyaninov, is expected to get the nod. His first deputy, Sergei Chemezov, will move up to run the agency, the report said.

Contacted late Tuesday, Kasyanov's spokeswoman Tatyana Razbash said she was not aware of the dismissal. No one at MiG or Rosoboronexport was available for comment.

The announcement came the day President Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of a government commission on the arms trade where he said this year's sales had been stable and had brought sufficient results.

Yet it was not for defense contracts that Nikitin officially got the boot. Last week, Rosaviakosmos chief Yury Koptev recommended that he be fired for failing to meet the deadline on production of the new Tu-334 short-range passenger liner, one of the government's pet projects.

Deputy Prime Minister Boris Alyoshin criticized MiG management for building a new production facility for assembling the Tu-334 outside Moscow, Interfax said. Alyoshin said it was built at a time when many other aircraft-building plants were not working at capacity.

Industry watchers, however, suggested last week that the Tu-334 failure was not the real reason behind Nikitin's sacking and pointed to a pending $2 billion deal with India to deliver a refitted aircraft carrier with a batch of MiG-29Ks on board. The deal, expected to be signed next week, would be MiG's largest-ever defense contract.