Kiev-based Antonov Enterprise, part of the UkrOboronProm (UOP) Concern, together with the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior (representing the State Emergency Service and the Ukrainian National Guard), is working on details of a contract to deliver 13 An-178 multi-purpose medium transport aircraft.
A preliminary agreement was reached at the Paris Air Show between Arsen Avakov, Minister of Internal Affairs; Pavlo Bukin, the head of UOP; and Oleksandr Donts, the president of Antonov. “These are the first aircraft with Ukrainian and European components,” Avakov tweeted on June 17. “The first demonstration flight is scheduled to take place this autumn, and the aircraft will enter service in three years.”
Estimated at $600 to $800 million, the contract is scheduled to be signed this fall, UOP announced. It will be the first domestic order for the An-178, which first flew in 2015. The 13 aircraft are expected to be built using Ukrainian, U.S., and European components, replacing parts previously provided by Russia.
The An-178s will form part of the new United System of Aviation and Civil Protection (ESABtCZ in Ukrainian), which is scheduled to become operational by 2022. The An-178s will join 55 Airbus helicopters in the program, the acquisition of which was announced in 2018. Missions for these aircraft involves firefighting and emergency operations, in addition to supporting the country’s National Guard in relocating assets and troops.
Acquiring the 13 An-178s for the ESABtCZ also serves the purpose of introducing the aircraft to foreign buyers, as well as attracting foreign investors to the Ukrainian aircraft industry, said Bukin. Ukraine’s aircraft industry is on a path to remove the “Russian connection” by replacing Russian technology and spare parts, rebuilding the industry with Western partners, and observing NATO standards as far as military aviation is concerned.
In line with creating a solid base for the independent Ukrainian aircraft industry, UOP also announced in mid-June that Plant 410CA (a key aviation industry asset) is prioritizing the modernization of An-26 military transport aircraft for the country’s air force at an accelerated pace. Upgrading with Ukrainian- and European-made components involves practically all of the major systems, including avionics, radio-electronics, and navigation systems to enable joint operations with NATO forces.
Plant 410CA is also participating in India’s efforts to upgrade and modernize its 100-plus Antonov military aircraft, namely the upgrade of Indian Air Force An-32s to An-32RE standard. The Ukrainian partner supplies the air force with avionics, which together with other systems of foreign manufacture are being installed in the IAF An-32s.
In another development at the 2019 Paris Air Show, the UAE defense ministry expressed interest in unmanned aerial vehicles made by Antonov, the head of UkrOboronProm announced after meeting a senior UAE defense ministry official on the sidelines of the show. “Currently the most promising markets for us are opening in the Middle East and Southeast Asia,” he added.