Russia’s transport fleet suffers from conflict

A Volga-Dnepr An-124-100 coming in to land (Image © Antonov)
A Volga-Dnepr An-124-100 coming in to land (Image © Antonov)

The civilian and military air transport fleets of Russia are very much likely to suffer from the current conflict with Ukraine. Many of today’s Russian aircraft come from the Antonov factories, with its main facilities in Kiev in Ukraine.

Concerns of Russian military strategists and civilian aviation authorities are the future airworthy status of the AN−124−100 Ruslan airlifters, the new AN-140 short- and medium-haul aircraft, the new AN-123 and the to further develop AN−148/An−158 family. According to sources within the Ministry of Industry within the Russian Federation, a working group is already examining the options if the current crisis with Ukraine continues and leads to the break-up between the commercial ties between Antonov and Russian companies.

The Aviastar plant in Russia was destined to resume building the legendary AN-124, which NATO has given the reporting name Condor. The Russian Air Force has already upgraded 14 of these big airlifters to AN-124-100, with another six aircraft planned for a similar overhaul. The Russian Air Force also seeks a new military version dubbed AN-124-300, which will include upgraded avionics for military needs. Current projections call for at least 20 of these new military Ruslans.

26 former Soviet (semi-)military AN-124s are currently flying as commercial transporters, including seven with Antonov’s own air freighter division. Russian Volga-Dnepr and Polet Airlines have combined orders for 10 new aircraft (5 each), but the fulfillment of that purchase is given the current military and political stand-off between Moscow and Kiev highly uncertain.

Of course there are hundreds of Ilyushin IL-76s the Russian Air Force can deploy, but they are not capable of transporting all needed airlift certified military material of the Russian armed forces.

© 2014 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger