State corporation Rostec is in talks with France's ECA Robotics to begin production of bomb-disposal robots in Russia that can be used by offshore oil drilling companies, a news report said Thursday.
The project was initially proposed by the Russian Navy but is intended primarily for civilian customers, such as Rosneft and Gazprom, which operate in the northern seas, still rife with mines left over from World War II, Kommersant reported.
An agreement to produce some of the components for the machines and their remotely controlled mine-detonation systems at Russian factories is expected to be signed this winter.
"We are talking about manufacturing remotely controlled machines for deactivating explosive objects," an unidentified official told Kommersant.
ECA Robotics would deliver most of the components for the machines, while Russians would assemble them, equip them with domestically designed remote-control systems and install them on ships.
However, Andrei Frolov, editor-in-chief of Export Vooruzheny (Arms Export) magazine, voiced some concerns about possible challenges to the project.
"There are certain difficulties involved in producing bomb-disposal machines in Russia, arising from the fact that following the Soviet collapse, some of the production facilities ended up outside of Russia, particularly in Kazakhstan," Frolov said.
Officials at Gazprom and Rosneft refused to comment about whether their companies would be interested in such robots.