Antonov and Saudi Arabia have signed an agreement on starting An-132 cargo aircraft production in Saudi Arabia, Antonov reports in a press release dated 21 February. A manufacturing complex will be established in Saudi Arabia by Saudi company Taqnia Aeronautics, which will also provice support for other Antonov products.
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.
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.
UPDATED 19 June | As always its the orders for airliners that fight for attention at the Paris Air Show, but on the military side, things are happening as well. Most interesting little fact was the apparent first export order – announced on Monday – for the Pakistan-made JF-17 Thunder, although no country was mentioned. Let’s not be surprised however when it turns out to be Myanmar.
Pakistan Air Force officials only described the country that soon may add the JF-17 to its military inventory, as ‘Asian’. The same officials reported that current turmoil in the Middle East has slowed down export talks. The JF-17’s development meanwhile continues, with a possible two seat version on the way.
On the slower spectrum, Mali and Ghana agreed to buy six and five A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft respectively, while Saudi Arabia signed for four Airbus C295W medium transport and patrol aircraft. Perhaps the most prominent deal was the purchase of four Boeing C-17s for the Qatar Emiri Air Force.
As far as helicopters are concerned, Malaysia placed an order with Airbus Helicopters for two AS365 Dauphins for SAR duties.
Unnoticed by many was the first sale for Aero Vodochody of its new L-39NG aircraft. More on that is here.
Dassault’s Rafale was the most numerous aircraft. Three Rafales were on the ground, while a fourth gave a flying display. In the trade halls, models of Rafales in the colours of Qatar, India and Egypt were seen. Given the recent orders from those countries, further Rafale sales are unlikely.
Also in the halls, Alenia Aermacchi was pitching its M-345 jet trainer. France is reportedly interested in this trainer aircraft. Elsewhere, Antonov was pitching its new An178 transporter. The Ukrainian company also announced the An188, a military transport aircraft in the A400M and Boeing C-17 category, powered by four turbofan engines.
UPDATED 10 June | One week prior to the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, it’s clear that Pakistan stole everybody’s thunder by sending over three JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft. The aircraft left Pakistan for France on Sunday 7 June. Le Bourget kicks off on Monday 15 June, with other high lights being the Bombardier CSeries and a sizable delegation from both Boeing and – remarkably – Qatar Airways.
Update 10 June: Airbus has confirmed an Airbus A400M will take part in the flying display. The company says it has complete confidence in the aircraft
The JF-17 is a joint endeavour by Pakistan and China, both already operating significant numbers of the type, although the Chinese prefer to call it the JC-1. Several countries have shown interest in the type, Argentina reportedly being one of them. One JF-17 will be on static display at Le Bourget, while the other two will be used for a solo flying display.
Bombardier The Paris Air Show marks the debut of the Bombardier CS100 and CS300 airliners, both still in development and in need of customers. Swiss was officialy announced as launch customer for the CS100 earlier this year, with deliveries commencing no sooner than next year.
Boeing On the military side of things, Boeing will bring a CH-47F Chinook, P-8A Poseidon and F-15E to Paris. The no-show of the F/A-18 Super Hornet is noteworthy, as the type is rumoured to have drawn interest from Kuwait. Other sources mention Kuwait is now eyeing the Eurofighter Typhoon, however. The P-8A is a serious contender for the UK, with an order on the cards in the not too distant future. Boeing will also present a 787-900 Dreamliner in Vietnam Airlines colours, plus a China Airlines 777-300ER.
For the US, an A-10C Thunderbolt tank killer should also pay a visit to Le Bourget. The type is currently deployed in Europe and the focus of a Boeing-effort of selling used airframes to interested nations.
Closer to home, Airbus is dispatching a A350XWB and an A380 to Le Bourget. It is uncertain if the Airbus A400M will be present at all after the fatal crash on 9 May in Seville, Spain. Airbus Helicopters will show a lot of its portfolio during the show
Quite remarkable is the presence of Qatar Airways at Le Bourget with an Airbus A380, A350, A320, A319 and a 787 Dreamliner. The major delegation fits into the current aggressive Qatar Airways marketing in Europe, which many European airlines see as a major threath to their business. It is said the recent order for 24 Dassault Rafale aircraft has opened many French doors for Qatar – the door of the Paris Air Show apparently being one of those doors.
In Ukraine, the new Antonov An-178 medium transport aircraft took flight for the first time on Thursday 7 May. The aircraft only saw its roll out three weeks ago. The An-178 is meant to take the place of the old An-12.
The first flight lasted one hour. The flight crew consisted of Antonov test pilots Andrii Spasibo, Sergii Troshyn and test engineer Mykola Sydorenko. After landing in Kiev Gostomel airport, the crew reported the flight was a success.
The An-178 is not purely an Antonov affair. The aircraft was designed and produced in cooperation with partner companies in 15 countries, Antonov states.