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Antonov An-70 - Joint Program

As is well known, protests in Kyiv began on November 21, 2013, following the Government of Ukraines announcement that it was suspending preparations to sign an association agreement with the European Union. On February 22, following three months of large protests and violent clashes, former President Yanukovych departed Kyiv. The Ukrainian Parliament established a new government on February 27. Groups that oppose the new government and support closer ties with Russia staged demonstrations in cities throughout eastern and southern Ukraine. Russian troops occupied several government buildings, including airports, and established roadblocks on the Crimean Peninsula.

Under these circumstances, it would seem improbable that Ukraine and Russia would continue joint work on this project. Serial production of the AN-70 requires a large number of cooperative enterprises of the two countries. On the background of the new relations of the Kiev authorities and official Moscow achieving such arrangements seems unlikely. Without Russian assistance, in turn, Ukraine will not be able to build new military transport aircraft. Thus, the Ukrainian events can be detrimental to one of the most promising projects of recent times.

A mixed intergovernmental group in charge of coordinating the AN-70 project's implementation was formed betwen Russia and Ukraine. The Ukrainian-Russian intergovernmental agreement on An-70 development was signed in 1993. But for many years attempts to sideline the Ukrainian An-70 were made by the Russian side to clear the way for development and production of the Russian Il-76. The tactical An-70 and strategic Il-76 were designed to carry out different missions, but their range and payload characteristics were sufficiently similar to render them competitors in a tight budget environment. The An-70 can fly 3,000 km with a 47 ton payload or 6,600 km with a 20 ton payload, while the new Il-76TF can fly 4,000 km with a 60 ton payload or 6,300 km with a 40 ton payload.

In June 2000 it was reported that Russia and Ukraine would build the new-generation Antonov 70 transport aircraft, not with Germany, as had been planned, but with China. Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev said that negotiations with Berlin had resulted in the Germans saying they would not support the joint Ukrainian-Russian An-70 project, Interfax reported. ``We won't try to win over the Germans, but will complete the project with China," Sergeyev said. A Chinese military delegation visited Ukraine and expressed an interest in the AN-70 transport aircraft.

Ukraine and Russia came to terms on sharing rights at a fifty-fifty ratio to the results of research related to the development of the aircraft in 2002. The MAKS-2003 International Aerospace Show held in Zhukovsky outside Moscow was evidence that Russia's influence on Ukraine in the military-technical sphere had increased substantially. Despite its declared Western orientation, Ukraine upgrades all its major military systems hand in hand with Russia. The MAKS-2003 air show offered a few revelations, notably the fact that Russia will not buy An-70s under any circumstances, at least as long as Gen. Vladimir Mikhailov remained general commander of the Russian Air Force. This does not mean, however, that Russia will abandon the project. According to him, the Defense Ministry is interested in tuning up the aircraft to sell it to third countries.

To complete the AN-70 project US$86 million was necessary. According to the two parties' agreement on their shares in the AN-70 project, Russia was to contribute US$61 millin of the said sum, and Ukraine would allot US$25 millin. In 2003 Russia allocated a mere 38 M. rubles to finance the AN-70 project. The Ukrainian party had kept all its commitments with regard to the AN-70 project, and in 2004 US$20 millin was supposed to be earmarked to this end, and in 2005 Ukraine would allocate US$5 million dollars. By early 2004 the group's sessions addressed the issue of the Russian side's resumption of joint trials of the AN-70 plane. The plane's trials were supposed to be completed in 2005.

According to Vasiliy Teplov, chief of the AN-70 program with the O.K. Antonov Aircraft Design - Manufacturing Complex, as of April 2006 expressions of interest kept coming from China, India, Indonesia, some Arab nations, the Czech Republic, Slovakia as interested to purchase the new medium military transport STOL aircraft AN-70, so Russia's withdrawal from the AN-70 program will not matter much. RAF Commander Vladimir Mikhailov stated the AN-70 was not necessary for the Russian Air Force.

The Ukrainian-Russian interdepartmental working group of the An-70 project agreed in August 2008 that it would recommend that the governments of two countries continue cooperation in the project. On 25 September 2008, Antonov Complex chief designer Dmytro Kiva announced at a press conference that Antonov Complex expected to begin serial production of the An-70 plane in 2010. As of December 2008 Ukraine was said to be ready to continue cooperation with Russia in the An-70 military transport aircraft project, but was also capable of completing state tests of the aircraft on its own. At that time, $132 million was required to complete the state tests of the An-70 in 2011.

On 18 August 2009, Anatoliy Serdiukov, Russia Minister of Defence, and Valeriy Ivashchenko, Ukraine acting Minister of Defence, signed the protocol to confirm conceptual parties agreement to continue working together within An-70 aircraft program, including financial support necessary to complete the aircraft state testing and arrange its commercial production.

In mid-August 2010, the defense ministries of Russia and Ukraine announced changes to a bilateral agreement on the An-70, pushing the start of serial production back to 2011. As known, on 30 September 2010 Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) and the Ukrainian Antonov State Enterprise approved documents establishing a joint venture to coordinate joint aviation programs on the construction of An-140, An-148, An-74, and An-70 planes. The parties agreed to conduct a unified pricing and marketing policy in order to avoid unnecessary internal competition. The Cabinet of Ministers approved the establishment of the joint venture on 25 October 2010. The terms for possible start of An-70 assembling in Russia were not named, indicating only that it will happen after the completion of certification testing of the aircraft. According to Antonov deputy chief designer Oleksandr Kiva, the certification testing will last for 1.5-2 years.

On October 27, 2010 at a meeting of the Ukrainian-Russian intergovernmental economic cooperation commission, Antonov Concern and Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) agreed to set up a joint venture. It will coordinate the activities of enterprises operated by Antonov and UAC on the purchase of components, manufacturing, sales and marketing, as well as aftermarket service and creating new versions of Antonov aircrafts. The joint venture is established on a parity basis. Among the programs the joint venture will work on are: further development of projects of regional jets of a new generation An-148 and An-158, passenger turboprop An-140, short takeoff and landing military transport aircraft An-70, the resumption of production of new variants transport An-124-100 "Ruslan". On 01 March 2011 the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) of Russia granted a motion of the Ukrainian Antonov State Aircraft Building Concern to acquire a 50% stake in Managing Company UAC - Civil Aircraft. "The deal, which is the subject of the motion, will not lead to restriction of competition," FAS emphasized.

On 12 January 2011 it was reported that Ukraine and Russia will assemble the military transport aircraft An-70 on the two main production sites - in Kyiv, Ukraine (Aviant plant) and Ulyanovsk, Russia (Aviastar-SP).

On April 20, 2011, the Defense Ministry of Ukraine announced that the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation intended to begin purchasing of An-70 and An-124-100 "Ruslan" in Ukraine from 2015-2016. This came after Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdiukov and Ukraine's minister Mikhail Yezhel visited the Antonov state-run enterprise (Kyiv). Serdiukov said that from 2015-2016, the Russian Defense Ministry plans to launch acquisition of new military transport aircraft with short takeoff and landing An-70 and modernized heavy transport aircraft An-124-100" Ruslan. According to Serdiukov, the "An-70" program had already been included into the state program of armament of Russia for the period until 2020.

The Russian military is interested in purchasing at least 60 An-70's over the ten years up to 2020. Serdiukov also said that at this stage, the Russia's ministry is doing its best to complete the program of state testing and certification of the aircraft in Russia. "We really like and need this plane," said Serdiukov. He also said that under Ukrainian-Russian co-operation, within forthcoming five years, the Russian Ministry of Defense plans to modernize the existing An-124 "Ruslan" and from 2015-2016 it is ready to begin acquisition of new modernized "Ruslan" planes in Ukraine.

Russia's Military Transport Aviation (VTA) is to receive 60 Antonov An-70 propfan tactical transport aircraft by 2020, the service's commander Lt. Gen. Viktor Kachalkin said on 31 May 2012. "From 2014, we will start to get the Ilyushin Il-76-MD90A (Il-476) and also the modernized Il-76MD. We are also counting on getting the new An-70," he said.

The An-70 aircraft didnt seem to be able to find a place of its own at any of the impoverished aircraft-making plants. This turboprop freighter is much needed by the Air Force. It has a short takeoff and landing and is capable of operating on poorly equipped airfields. There is a problem, though: its production is being reassigned back and forth between different plants. The Air Force is test-flying two prototypes built by the Ukrainian Aviant plant operated by the Antonov Design Bureau. The list of complaints about the work done by Ukrainian designers is not getting any shorter. This story may reach the proportions of a soap opera.

Ukrainian Industrial Policy Minister Mykhailo Korolenko said 23 September 2013 that the design of the An-70 aircraft had currently been stopped. "Last year we completed the aircraft for the installation of upgraded equipment and conducted more than 50 flights, and 680 flights have been performed since the beginning of trials... This January we passed the first package of documents for the aircraft to the Russian Defense Ministry. However, further work on the transfer of technical documentation has been suspended by the Russian Defense Ministry, and the project is currently in limbo".

Ukraine and Russia will decide on a joint serial production of AN-70 on the basis of test results. This was announced 18 December 2013 after the signing ceremony of the Ukrainian-Russian documents in Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych, according to his press office. Yanukovych said that Ukraine and Russia have identified a number of problems, which in the future will help accelerate the implementation of infrastructure and high-tech projects. According to the President, first of all it concerns areas of aircraft and shipbuilding, nuclear power, space-rocket complex. "It is, in particular, the completion of the test aircraft AN-70 and making their decision on the results of the joint mass production, as well as the harmonization of Action for financing the construction of transport crossing through the Kerch Strait," - said Yanukovych.

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Page last modified: 15-07-2014 20:20:16 ZULU