Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ukraine halts funding of An-70 transport aircraft program

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry will not fund the joint Russia-Ukraine Antonov An-70 transport aircraft project, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily said on Thursday.

The An-70 is a medium-range turboprop military transport plane developed by Ukraine's Antonov design bureau. The Antonov company first tested a prototype of the An-70 in 1994, but a lack of Ukrainian state funds, and political disputes between Moscow and Kiev have prevented large-scale production of the aircraft.

Several international military-technical projects with Russia were suspended in the new Ukrainian draft military budget.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily said the cut in funding affects, aside from the Antonov An-70 program, the construction of a corvette for the Ukrainian Navy, as well as Mil Mi-24 helicopter modernization programs.

"If the An-70 project goes ahead in the nearest future, it will be carried out thanks to Russia's good will and support," Konstantin Makiyenko, an expert from the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST), told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

"Taking into account the Ukrainian economic situation, it (the ministry) will be able to fund only 10-15 percent of this project," he said.

The head of the Centre for Analysis of World Arms Trade, Igor Korotchenko said that "it was the intergovernmental Russia-Ukrainian committee, but not the Ukrainian Defense Ministry that would decide on the An-70's fate."

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