The Ukrainian Air Force is expected to introduce its first Antonov AN-70 tactical airlifter into service this year. After several flight tests and the green light from the Ukrainian government, sources now say one of the two AN-70s built by the aircraft company based in Kiev will soon report for duty.
Since the Ukrainian government is short on cash fighting the war against Russia-backed separatist in the east of the country, it is believed that the Antonov aircraft company provides a AN-70 under similar terms as a AN-32P last year, hoping for more orders in the future.
Meanwhile Moscow has stepped away from the AN-70 project. The Russian Air Force hoped to replace its remaining 50 or so aging Antonov AN-12 by the new aircraft, but the ongoing Ukrainian-Russian conflict in Eastern Ukraine has shut the door for Moscow. The Russian Defence Ministry now says it will have to rely on the new IL-76MD-90A instead, a bigger four engine jet aircraft.
Antonov has high hopes for other export customers, since its AN-70 could be a cheaper and good alternative for the Airbus A400M and Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules. There are no Russian alternatives to the type.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): The new Antonov AN-70 STOL military airlifter at the factory airfield in Kiev (Kyiv) (Image © Antonov Aircraft Company)