The project to develop the mid-range MC-21 aircraft, included in the Russian government’s innovative rebuilding of the economy plan in 2008, has become 130% more expensive over the course of its existence, reports finanz.ru.
The completion deadline was missed, and instead of two models, a 300 and a 400, the project was downsized to one, according to a report published by Russia’s Accounts Chamber on Thursday.
During the course of the project, the time needed to develop the plane grew to three years, and the Irkut corporation completed several stages of the operation 6-12 months later than planned.
More than 158 billion rubles have already been spent on the project, and another 279.4 billion will be needed over the next eight years. This puts the total cost at around 437.4 billion rubles ($6.6 billion), making it 50% more expensive than all of Elon Musk’s key space projects put together. According to NASA, the development of the Falcon 9 cost $3.9 billion, and Musk himself claims that the Falcon Heavy cost only $500 million.
The MC-21 project was initially launched “under difficult conditions, when in the industry there was great deterioration in the production funds, and a high level of dependence on import,” explains Accounts Chamber auditor Sergey Agaptsov. In the middle of the project, Russia had to establish its own avionics production to replace the foreign onboard radar integration system.
The collapse of the ruble has also affected the project’s cost: when the MC-21 development began, it was 23.5 rubles to the dollar, but by the start of November 2018, the exchange rate had plummeted to 65.6.
“Additional budget allocations are now required to establish an after-sales service system and serial production,” Agaptsov notes.
For Damascus, acquiring the Russian aircraft is “a dream which must come true as soon as possible”, says Syrian Transport Minister Ali Hamud. “We asked friendly Russia to let Syria have the right to be first to acquire these planes.”