Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Russia may purchase 20 An-124 transport planes before 2020

The Russian Defense Ministry may purchase some 20 An-124 Ruslan (Condor) heavy-lift transport aircraft according to the 2011-2020 state arms procurement program, a senior official said on Monday.

"We are now working on this issue... We intend to buy about 20 such aircraft," said Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin, who is in charge of arms procurement.

He said an agreement on the modernization of the Ruslan planes which are currently in service had been signed earlier this year.
"We plan to modernize two planes annually, and starting from 2015-2016, if the manufacturers are ready, we will start purchasing them," he added.

In June, Boeing said it may conduct the final assembly of Russian-Ukrainian An-124 Ruslan heavy-lift transport planes for the U.S. market - a move which drew much criticism from the Ukraine-based Antonov Design Bureau.

Russia and Ukraine reached a preliminary agreement to resume production of the An-124 in April 2008.

The An-124, which can be used both for domestic and military purposes, was designed by the Antonov Design Bureau in 1982, and was produced in Ukraine's Kiev and Russia's Ulyanovsk until 1995. The plane has a maximum payload of 150 metric tons with a flight range of around 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles).

The cargo jet is the world's third largest after the An-225 and the Airbus A380F.

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