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Ukraine Air Force to get three An-70 cargo planes

RIA Novosti

14:22 05/10/2011

KIEV, October 5 (RIA Novosti) - The Ukrainian Air Force will take delivery of three An-70 military transport aircraft, Defense Minister Mikhaylo Yezhel said on Wednesday.

The first plane will be delivered "in the very near future," he said.

Asked whether Ukraine would be able to make An-70s without Russia, the minister said: "It's already making them."

He stressed, however, that he did not mean series production and this was a question not for the Defense Ministry, but for the Antonov design bureau.

The An-70 is a medium-range turboprop military transport plane developed by Ukraine's Antonov design bureau. The Antonov company first tested a prototype of the An-70 in 1994, but a lack of funding, and political disputes between Moscow and Kiev have prevented series production.

Antonov decided to proceed with self-funding.

The first plane was lost during its fourth flight in February 1995 in a mid-air collision that killed the seven crewmembers.

In 2002, Russia and Ukraine agreed on a 50-50 risk-sharing production deal, but in April 2006 Russia announced its complete withdrawal from the project.

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