The Ukrainian government signed a Memorandum of Acquisition of three An-178 with Antonov on Tuesday. The short-range medium-airlift military transport aircraft are expected to be delivered from 2023, but it has not been revealed to which Ukrainian military divisions they will be transferred.
Capable of carrying up to 18 tons of cargo or 70 paratroopers, among other tasks, the An-178 flew for the first time in 2015, but has only one confirmed order from the Peruvian government, which should soon receive a jet.
“These new aircraft will be built by Ukrainian citizens, from Ukrainian components, for Ukrainian interests. In fact, this is how it should be,” said Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine.
It is the first time that the Ukrainian government has signed a memorandum of purchase of Antonov aircraft since the country became independent in 1991. Until then, Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union and Antonov (founded in 1946 by Russian Olev Antonov) was moved from Moscow to Kiev in 1952.
Ignored by Ukraine
The order has a symbolic value since the Ukrainian government has been delaying the purchase of the An-178 until today, which made the current president of the country recognize that many heads of state from other nations asked him why Ukraine does not use the aircraft.
“They always ask me if these planes would be used in Ukraine. That is why this step is doubly important. It strengthens Ukraine’s defense capabilities and helps to attract Ukrainian and foreign investment,” said Zelenskyy.
The Ukrainian representative also announced that the government is working on launching a new national airline in 2021 and that it will use Antonov planes.
The planemaker has been experiencing serious financial difficulties in recent years, after relations between Russia and Ukraine were shaken by the invasion of Crimea. Without Russian orders, Antonov has lost an important source of funds that has not been compensated by new customers.
With government support, the intention is to attract new professionals who left the company in the recent past. “We will do everything possible for the Ukrainian aviation industry to overcome all turbulence zones and reach new heights,” summarized Volodymyr Zelenskyi.