Tag Archives: Ukraine

New production of AN-124 Ruslan, possibly AN-225

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

One of the world’s largest cargo airplanes, the Antonov AN-124 Ruslan, will get a second life. Not only will more current aircraft be updated to the AN-124-100 standard, the Ukrainian aircraft manufacturer will actually build up to 80 new aircraft of the -200 and -300 standards.

High representatives of Governments and Defense Industry Complexes of Ukraine and Russian Federation visited the aircraft manufacturing plant in the beginning of December. The Ukrainian delegation was even headed by vice prime minister Yuriy Boyko, the Russian by deputy chairman of the Russian Federation Dmitry Rogozin.

The parties discussed many ways to further co-develop aircraft, especially the production of regional jets of the AN−148/An−158 family, the AN−70 military STOL transport aircraft AND resumption of series production of the modernized version of the AN−124−100 Ruslan transport: the AN−124−200 including restarting the production of an upgraded Ivchenko-Progress D-18T turbofan engine powering the aircraft.

AN-225
On the side even the possibility of constructing a second giant AN-225 Mriya was discussed. Equipped with six engines the Mriya – once designed for the Soviet space program – holds the record of the world’s largest cargo plane with a max registered load of 253,820 kilograms (559,577 pounds). Since the collapse of the Soviet Union the single Mriya left is commercially deployed by Antonov.

Although a full green light for the series production of the Ruslan (NATO reporting name Condor) and the Mriya (NATO reporting name Cossack) has not been given, the future looks promising. On the civil market there is a demand for a fair priced big cargo aircraft that can compete easily with the more expensive Boeing 747-800 / -900 Freighters.

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).

Russian Air Force
New AN-124s will be very interesting for the Russian Air Force as well, while Moscow is currently rebuilding its military might everywhere. A sizeable strategic airlift component will be needed to match those ambitions.

Plans already existed to upgrade the 14 aircraft in service and six in storage to the AN-124-100 standard by 2020. They operate out of Tver. But the Russian Air Force has already asked for 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.

© 2013 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger with source information from Antonov

The AN-225 Mriya at Stockholm-Arlanda on 5 January 2012, picking up heavy underwater Ericsson telecom cables for a customer in South Korea (Image © Marcel Burger)
The AN-225 Mriya at Stockholm-Arlanda on 5 January 2012, picking up heavy underwater Ericsson telecom cables for a customer in South Korea (Image © Marcel Burger)

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‘Why allied pilots don’t sleep well’

Ukrainian Air Force Sukhoi Su-27 (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Ukrainian Air Force Sukhoi Su-27 (Image © Elmer van Hest)

“Why enemy pilots don’t sleep well”, said an eighties General Dynamics advertisement for the F-16 Fighting Falcon *. “Why allied pilots don’t sleep well”, is what applies to the Sukhoi Flanker family. The Flanker is a slender, delicate and elegant looking machine despite its surprisingly large dimensions. But most of all it is a feared fighter. Stuff of nightmares, really.

Let’s count from 10 to 37. The Flanker prototypes were designated T10, and the very first flight took place on 20 May 1977. NATO came up with the name ‘Flanker A’ for the prototypes, and ‘Flanker B’ for the production Su-27s that followed.

A standard Su-27 in not-so standard colours. This is Flanker B from the Russian Flight Research Institute at Zhukovsky near Moscow. It seen in September 1997, awaiting test pilot Anatoly Kvotchur at Valkenburg airfield, the Netherlands. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A standard Su-27 in not-so standard colours. This is Flanker B from the Russian Flight Research Institute at Zhukovsky near Moscow. It is seen here in September 1997, awaiting test pilot Anatoly Kvotchur at Valkenburg airfield, the Netherlands. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
These colours are wellknown on the Su27. A Flanker of Russki Vityazi - the Russian Knights - is getting ready for take off at Leeuwarden airbase, the Netherlands, in April 1993. This particular aircraft crashed into a mountain in December 1995 in Vietnam. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
These colours are well known on the Su-27. A Flanker of Russki Vityazi – the Russian Knights – is getting ready for take off at Leeuwarden airbase, the Netherlands, in April 1993. This particular aircraft crashed into a mountain in December 1995 in Vietnam. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Ukrainian Flankers are pretty rare now, but also in 1997 when a pair visited RIAT airshow at Fairford, UK. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Ukrainian Flankers are pretty rare these days, but they also were in 1997 when a pair visited RIAT airshow at Fairford, UK. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Another Ukrainian Su-27 Flanker B. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Another Ukrainian Su27 Flanker B. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Su30
Counting on to 30. The Su-30 is a two-seat variant based on the Su-27UB ‘Flanker C’ trainer aircraft. Not many were built of the ‘vanilla’ Su-30 without thrust vectoring. Variants with thrust vectoring became a valuable Russian export success, however.

Counting on to 30 ... See here are two Russian Su30s - not many were built - at Fairford in 1997. That year saw probably the greatest airshow ever at Fairford. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Seen here are two Russian Su-30s at Fairford in 1997. That year saw probably the greatest airshow ever at Fairford. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The SU30s above were predecessors of the Indian Air Force Su30MKI aircraft, featuring thrust vectoring. See angle of the exhausts - that's why allied pilots don't sleep well. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Su-30s were predecessors of the Indian Air Force Su-30MKI aircraft, featuring thrust vectoring. Notice the angle of the exhausts – that’s why allied pilots don’t sleep well. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Another Indian Su-30MKI. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Another Indian Su-30MKI. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Frankenstein Flanker
The Flanker platform was used for various other roles as well. The most ‘Frankenstein Flanker’ is probably the Su-34 Fullback, known earlier as Su-27IB and Su-32FN.

Russia_Su32FN
Not a Flanker really, but a Su-32FN Fullback on the taxiway at Le Bourget, France, in June 1997. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Fantastic Flanker
Going hi-tech now with the Su-37 Flanker F. This aircraft stunned airshow crowds in the nineties with truly spectacular moves that made the famous ‘Cobra’ act by Su-27s and MiG-29s look like childs play. If allied pilots weren’t worried before, they definitely were now.

A Sukhoi Su-37 Flanker-F fighter aircraft at the Paris - Le Bourget airshow of June 21, 1997. Russian Sukhoi aircraft only developed two prototypes of the Su-37, to test so-called thrust-vectoring nozzles to improve its air combat manoeuvrability. The aircraft is coded 711 Blue, and has number 344 on the fuselage. The plane would crash in December 2002 due to a software malfunction. (Image © Marcel Burger)
Up, up, up to 37. This is a Sukhoi Su-37 Flanker-F, one of two built by Sukhoi for thrust-vectoring tests. This aircraft crashed three years after this pictures was taken in June 1997. (Image © Marcel Burger)

© 2013 AIRheads’ Elmer van Hest

* F-16 advertisement via http://www.f-16.net/


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Most famous biplane of 1946 gets new life

Test flight of the new Antonov An-2-100 (Image © Antonov Aircraft Corporation)
Test flight of the new Antonov AN-2-100 (Image © Antonov Aircraft Corporation)

It is probably the world’s most famous biplane. 18,000 have been built between 1946 and 2002, but today starts a new chapter in the life of the Antonov AN-2, with the AN-2-100. The modernized 70-year old model made its first flight on July 10, 2013, at the Ukrainian aircraft factory plant piloted by commander Sergii Tarasiuk and co-pilot Valerii Epanchintsev.

,,The AN-2-100 is intended for passenger, cargo and mixed cargo-passenger transportation on local airlines. It can be operated autonomously at small airfields with low sub-soil strength, including ice and snow-covered ones, in a wide altitude range, under good and adverse climatic and weather conditions”, writes a spokesperson of the Antonov aircraft company of Ukraine in a press release.

The main difference between the AN-2-100 and its predecessor is the new MC-14 turboprop engine, designed and produced by Ukrainian Motor Sich company. The new engine doesn’t need the special aviation gasoline of the old Antonov 2, but the cheaper normal aviation kerosene. The An-2-100 also has a new reversible propeller and weights in fully operational condition 200 kg less than the Annie of 1946.

Antonov will refurbish existing An-2s to the An-2-100 standard. The company identified 135 AN-2s within Ukraine alone, with only 54 aircraft still airworthy. Antonov hopes for foreign orders as well, with reportedly 1580 of them available in the Russian Federation, of which 322 still fly – mainly for agricultural purposes. 290 An-2s are being operated in Kazakhstan, 143 in Uzbekistan, 89 in Turkmenistan, 82 in Belarus, 63 in Azerbaijan, 30 in Kirgizia, 13 in Moldova and 4 in Armenia. How many Antonov An-2s are stored, displayed or fly outside the former Soviet states is unclear.

Source: Antonov Aircraft Corporation