The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine and state-owned enterprise (SOE) Antonov signed a memorandum of cooperation in the construction of aircraft for the needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
The memorandum was signed with the participation of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, the press service of the head of state said.
At the first stage, this is about three new military transport aircraft An-178, which will receive the Armed Forces of Ukraine. They can be used for the delivery of personnel, weapons and light military equipment by landing and parachute methods, as well as for the transportation of goods.
“These new aircraft will be constructed by Ukrainian citizens, from Ukrainian components, for Ukrainian interests. Actually, the way it should be,” Zelensky said before the document signing ceremony, which took place at SOE Antonov.
The Antonov State Enterprise (Kyiv) plans to enter the final stage in terms of testing, certifying and creating a new configuration of the An-178 medium cargo transport aircraft without Russian components, State Enterprise President Oleksandr Los has said in an interview with the Ekonomichna Pravda edition.
“Beginning from January 1, 2023, we are to expand the production of An-178 to 12 aircraft per year alongside developing financial framework, expanding markets, and processing state orders from Ukrainian companies,” he said.
“This is what we obtain from the potential marketing analysis that is needed by Ukrainian state authorities and meets the demands of our potential customers,” he added.
Los explained that due to the historically existing dependence on Russian components, the An-178 is the only immediately prepared serial production to date.
“Passenger An-158 aircraft is in order, since both models are related in terms of equipment. We are also starting to work on the aircraft under the working name of An-188,” the Antonov president said.
According to him, three An-148 and ten An-158 aircraft are currently in the Antonov serial production workshops at different stages of completion.
The president of the state enterprise said that for the time being COVID-19 pandemic complicates the work of Antonov, but plans are implemented as scheduled.
“As soon as I tried to increase the number of employees, the number of COVID cases immediately increased,” Los said, adding that the chief engineer of the enterprise had recovered from coronavirus.
Turkey showed interest in the Ukrainian An-178 aircraft, this issue was discussed at a meeting of Interior Minister of Ukraine Arsen Avakov and Interior Minister of Turkey Süleyman Soylu.
“Our An-178 aircraft is presented at the modern technology exhibition in Istanbul, which we are honored to attend. The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine plans to purchase 13 such aircraft for the State Emergencies Service to eliminate fires and for the National Guard. I hope the Turkish side will pay attention to our An-178,” the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs quoted Avakov as saying.
In turn, the Turkish interior minister praised the An-178 and expressed interest in this aircraft.
“The An-178 is a very good aircraft. In addition, our Mi-17 helicopters are being modernized in Ukraine, six of which we have already received. For us, this is an example of very successful cooperation with you,” Soylu said.
Avakov invited him to visit Ukraine. “I really hope that you will visit Ukraine at the end of the month. We will have large-scale exercises that you should see. In addition, I will show you new modernized models of the Mi-8 helicopter. And Airbus will present the helicopters that they supply for the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine,” he said.
In response, Soylu suggested that he would most likely come to Ukraine.
The multi-purpose transport aircraft An-178 was developed at the Antonov state-owned enterprise, which is part of state-run Ukroboronprom. About 200 companies from 15 countries are involved in production cooperation under the An-178 program.
The flight altitude of the An-178 is 12 km, the range is 5,500 km, and the maximum speed is 825 km/h. The aircraft has a modified fuselage shape, a ramp for loading and unloading oversized cargo and is capable of transporting up to 18 tonnes of cargo, including heavy sea containers. It can land and take off from any airdromes, including unpaved ones.
The An-178 made its first flight on May 7, 2015. In July 2018, Ukroboronprom presented the An-178 at the Farnborough Airshow international aerospace show, where the aircraft performed a demonstration flight.