Ukraine's air force should take delivery of its first Antonov An-70 next year, with the tactical transport undergoing flight-testing in an upgraded configuration.

Kiev is expected to receive an initial batch of two production-standard An-70s, which Antonov says should be handed over in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Recent trials activities using the company's lone prototype aircraft have included delivering armed paratroops from various speeds, plus assessing emergency and safety procedures, including ground egress.

Propulsion system suppliers Ivchenko-Progress and Motor Sich have "completed stand tests of the D-27 engines with upgraded propfans and control systems", Antonov says.

 An-70 - Antonov
© Antonov

Work to upgrade the An-70's electronics equipment is ongoing, with the aircraft to gain new cockpit displays and a fully digital flight control system. The modernisation effort is a key element of bringing the transport into production, as the aircraft was first flown in December 1994.

Antonov says the joint Russian/Ukrainian test programme on the new-standard aircraft is due to conclude in 2012. The An-70 has a payload capacity of 47t, and a range of more than 1,620nm (3,000km) when carrying a 20t cargo.

In addition to the interest shown by the Ukrainian and Russian militaries, cargo specialist Volga-Dnepr has also recently signed a memorandum of understanding to acquire up to five commercial-standard An-70Ts.

Separately, Antonov is continuing to work on a new medium transport design dubbed the An-178. To be developed from the company's An-158 regional airliner, the twin-turbofan design should have a range of 650nm with a maximum 15t payload, and a cruise speed of 446kt (825km/h).

Source: Flight International