Ukrainian engine manufacturer Motor Sich comes under Chinese control

The Ukrainian aeronautics industry is one of the most efficient in Europe, particularly for large aircraft engines such as the D-18 turbojet which powers the Antonov An-124 and An-225, or the D-346 turbojet which powers the Yak -46 and the An-72. Due to the Ukrainian embargo placed on this type of equipment against Russia, the Ukrainian company has struggled to find outlets since 2014, now threatening its 20.000 employees in the Zaporizhia region. Despite numerous speeches announcing the desire of Europeans to help Ukraine, the European aeronautics industry seems not to be interested in these companies, a bit like what happens with many aeronautics industries. from Eastern Europe.

And what was supposed to happen, happened!

Two Chinese companies, Tianjiao Aviation Industry Investment Co (Skyrizon Aircraft) and Xinwei Group, took control of the Ukrainian engine manufacturer by acquiring more than 50% of the shares. The transaction was approved by the UkrOboronProm holding company, as well as the Ukrainian anti-monopoly committee. All that now remains is for the Ukrainian government to agree to the handover. In the absence of alternative solutions, with the risk of seeing the company collapse, and despite the strategic role of Motor Sich in the Ukrainian industrial landscape, it is unlikely that kyiv will veto it.

An124 su35 Defense News | Transport Aviation | Industrial consolidation Defense
The Ukrainian D18 engine equipped in particular with the very large An-124 carrier

For Chinese industry, this acquisition is an unexpected opportunity. Indeed, building high-performance large aircraft engines is a very difficult skill to acquire. However, the Chinese aeronautical industry aims to quickly position itself on the market for short and medium-haul civil aircraft, competing with a large part of the Airbus/Bombardier range and Boeing. In addition, Motor Sich also has immense know-how regarding turbines for helicopters, again an area with very high growth potential in the coming years for the Chinese industry, which is particularly targeting the market majority held by Airbus. Helicopters.

Through this acquisition, the Chinese aeronautics industry gains several years in terms of R&D, and several decades in terms of its reliability image. Even if in Western Europe, Ukrainian engines are not perceived as particularly reliable, they have been equipping Russian Mi and Kamov helicopters for more than 50 years, like the majority of military and civilian transport aircraft that were in service in the Warsaw Pact, and among its allies. For a large part of the world, the reliability of these engines is therefore known and recognized.

Helicopter Mi 24 Hind Defense News | Transport Aviation | Industrial consolidation Defense
Motor Sich also designs and manufactures turbines for helicopters, such as this Russian Mi-24 Hind

By not positioning themselves to take over and develop the Ukrainian company, Europeans like Safran, Rolls-Royce or MTU, like Americans like General Electric and Pratt & Whitney, have therefore just allowed China to take a giant step forward to be able, in a relatively short time, position itself in key markets which support 185.000 direct employees in Europe, and more than 500.000 in the United States. We can, therefore, wonder if this does not represent a monumental strategic error with medium-term consequences whose scope is still difficult to imagine...

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