Russian weapons maker of MH17 missile branches out into cars

·2 min read
Almaz-Antey is better known for making anti-aircraft missile systems - Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg
Almaz-Antey is better known for making anti-aircraft missile systems - Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

A Russian state-owned defence firm that manufactured the missile that brought down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 is working on what could be Russia’s first hybrid car.

Almaz-Antey, the weapons manufacturer of S-300 missile systems and the Buk guided missile that is believed to have shot down MH17, is developing a hybrid car that will run on electricity and hydrogen.

The car will be able to drive 500km on a single charge, Russian website RBC reported on Tuesday.

The defence firm is following in the footsteps of other Russian weapons manufacturers that have announced ambitious civilian projects that never progressed past the design stage.

Almaz-Antey has insisted that it did not make the Buk guided missile that was fired from the fields of eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

The new hybrid car, named E-Neva after the Neva River in St Petersburg, will have a tank capacity of 52 litres and a 72kWh-battery, according to RBC.

E-Neva will reach 100 kilometres per hour in 8.5 seconds, and have a top speed of 180km per hour.

The company did not share blueprints or any other details.

The defence firm’s announcement comes in the middle of a long-running trial at the Hague where three Russians and one Ukrainian stand accused of murdering flight MH17’s passengers.

The victims families delivered their statements in court this month, with some of them sharing their frustration and anger with Russia for failing to admit its involvement.

Moscow denies it had any hand in the event, despite overwhelming evidence suggesting a Russian military unit that fired the Buk missile in the rebel-held eastern Ukraine.

The hybrid project appears to be part of Almaz-Antey’s efforts to expand into production of dual-use and civilian goods, in line with a recent Russian government plan to encourage weapons-makers to use their technology for civilian purposes.

Many other Russian weapons manufacturers have come up with side projects in recent years, like the famed tank maker UralVagonZavod which built a futuristic-looking prototype tram.

None of those projects, however, entered mass production. Russian car experts are skeptical of E-Neva’s prospects on the market.

“Competition will be high, and the defence company will have a hard time with this. This is a civilian product, a new and completely different market for them,” Vadim Kozyulin, a military expert, told Business FM radio station, adding that Almaz-Antey might hope to secure state subsidies for production.

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