ZHUKOVSKY (Moscow Region), August 18 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian government will heavily invest in the development of the country's aerospace industry, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.
"The development of the aircraft industry and space exploration is certainly one of our priorities," Putin said at the opening of the MAKS-2009 air show in Zhukovsky, near Moscow.
According to the government, financing of the aircraft industry has increased 20 times in the past five years. Despite the current economic crisis, the government allocated about 80 billion rubles ($2.5 billion) in 2009 for the development of the industry.
"We are planning to continue investing heavily in these branches of the economy, to set up competitive enterprises capable of capturing their niches in the market, and to generate resources for the modernization of existing assets," the prime minister said.
Putin visited MAKS-2009 to watch the performances of three Russian and two foreign aerobatics teams, tour the exhibits of leading aircraft manufacturers and hold a meeting with aircraft industry officials.
The Russian Knights aerial display team pulled out of the show after their commander died in a midair collision during a rehearsal on Sunday.
Over 700 companies, including 465 Russian firms, are participating in the biennial air show, which ends on Sunday.
MAKS bills itself as "a demonstration of the advantages and development trends of Russian science and industry in such high-tech areas as aviation, space, missile engineering."
Overall, 1,449 exhibits will be on display, including 470 full-scale models.
Russia will showcase a variety of military and civilian aircraft, including its famed Su-family fighters, the new MiG-35 fighter, the Il-96-400 cargo plane, and the new Superjet 100 mid-haul passenger airliner.
The organizers said more than 500,000 people are expected to visit the MAKS-2009 air show.