Ukraine seeks partner to relaunch An-74 aircraft

State-owned UkrOboronProm company is offering the annual production of 12 aircraft, in addition to investments to modernize the airlifter

UkrOboronProm, the state-owned company that controls Ukraine’s aeronautical industry, is looking for an international partner capable of injecting resources into the An-74 aircraft program to restart its production.

The details of the Ukrainian government’s proposal were made public last week and include the annual production of 12 aircraft by the Kharkiv State Aircraft Manufacturing Company (KSAMC), the company responsible for the production of the An-74 and An-140 models.

The complex comprises an area of ​​150,000 square meters in addition to 20 unfinished aircraft. According to UkrOboronProm, the potential partner would have the rights to sell the An-74 upon payment of a production cost to KSAMC.

The partner must also cover the company’s debts, provide a loan so that the manufacturer can restart production and consider possible modernization of the aircraft.

KSAMC facility

Antonov restructuring

UkrOboronProm’s proposal is yet another initiative to try to reactivate the Ukrainian aerospace industry, shaken by the end of the partnership with Russia. Since the middle of the past decade, the country’s government has restructured Antonov, a traditional Soviet-era design bureau that currently focuses on aircraft development and the special cargo division.

The An-74 is an enhanced version of the An-72, a STOL freighter developed in the 1970s using the so-called Coanda effect. The concept allows to increase the aircraft’s lift by directing the flow of engine gases over the wing profile. The Coanda was used by Boeing’s YC-14 military freighter, which competed in a USAF competition in the 1970s, but ended up defeated.

An-74 on landing (Dmitry A. Mottl)

Weaknesses

In the proposal, UkrOboronProm cites the advantages of the An-74 over its competitors, the C-27J (Leonardo) and C-295 (Airbus), such as the STOL capacity, the superior speed and altitude, the low price and the characteristics for operation on unprepared runways, including the fact that the engines are located in a very high position.

Interestingly, Ukrainians also speak of the aircraft’s weaknesses such as high fuel consumption and maintenance difficulties due to the turbofans placed above the wings.

For this reason, KSAMC also considers the production of the An-74K-300 variant, which was certified in 2001 with the engine pylons positioned under the wings, in a conventional configuration and which benefits the aircraft’s range and speed.

UkrOboronProm establishes a roadmap for the selection process, however, it does not talk about deadlines, only that the partnership will have to be submitted to KSAMC creditors. To date, the An-72 and An-74 have had 195 units produced.

An-74K-300, with pylons under the wing (Rolf Wallner)
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