Although the deal is not fully put into ink yet, things are looking better again for the Ukrainian Antonov aircraft company. Saudi Arabia wants to buy 30 of its new AN-178 two-engine military airlifters and signed a preliminary agreement on 17 December 2015, Antonov announced.
Talks between the two countries will now determine the exact details of the likely deal, which follows an agreement announced in May this year for the AN-132. Saudi Arabia will produce that version of the AN-32 cargo aircraft / military airlifter on its own, with Ukrainian Antonov transferring the necessary technology and property rights to Taqnia Aeronautics and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in the Kingdom.
Roll out & first flight
The AN-178 is newly designed aircraft that was rolled out of the Antonov factory in Kiev on 7 May 2015 and first flew from Kiev Gostomel airport only three weeks later. Keeping up the pace, the new transporter made its international airshow debut at the Paris Air Show in June.
The AN-178 is seen as a financially attractive option and internationally competes with the propeller airlifters of Alenia Aermacchi (C-27J- extensive feature story here) and Airbus (C295) and the new jet-powered Embraer KC-390. The latter suffers from a two year-delay in its development program however.
Antonov has a rough time since Russia initiated hostilities with Ukraine on the Crimean Peninsula and Eastern Ukraine in 2014. Joint deals with Russia’s industries – once working closely with their Ukrainian “brothers” – are no longer an option. The Saudi deals bring light at the end of the tunnel.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: The Antonov AN-178 at Le Bourget, 2015 (Image © Elmer van Hest)