Russia has moved to revive Antonov's dormant An-70 tactical transport project, with a new accord having been agreed at the MAKS Moscow air show in mid-August.

Signed by Russian defence minister Anatoly Serdykov and Ukrainian deputy defence minister Valery Ivashchenko, the protocol to an interstate agreement of 1993 is expected to lead to Moscow restoring funds. The move would support continued development and flight testing using Antonov's only surviving prototype of the An-70, which was on static display at the show.

Ukraine's Kiev-based KiGAZ Aviant is already working to complete a further two airframes, the roll-out dates for which have been repeatedly postponed. The Ukrainian government earlier this year placed the previously independent plant under Antonov control.

Antonov An-70
 © Vladamir Karnozov

The An-70 programme has also received a further boost, with Volga-Dnepr having signed a letter of intent with Antonov in which it declares its intent to become the launch customer for a civilian version of the aircraft. The An-70T will initially retain the military design's four Progress/Motor-Sich D-27 prop-fan engines and 110t maximum take-off weight, but have different avionics. Antonov says first deliveries of the derivative could take place in 2013.

Russia's Polet airline also says it is considering placing an order for the An-70T. Its possible commitment, combined with interest from Volga-Dnepr and the Russian and Ukrainian air forces, could help Antonov achieve "a critical mass of orders sufficient to turn the long-going project into a commercially viable one", Polet says.

Separately, Russia's VASO plant has cut metal on the first prototype of the Ilyushin Il-112VT tactical transport. The aircraft is expected to be rolled out by the end of next year and to fly in early 2011, with Russia to acquire an initial 34 examples for its air force. Ilyushin and Tranzas displayed a cockpit simulator for the new type during the MAKS show.

Source: Flight International