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Antonov Looks To Westernize An-124

Antonov Looks To Westernize An-124
AeroBD | The AERO news Company…January 25, 2016, SEVILLE, Spain : Ukrainian aircraft manufacturer Antonov is studying options to westernize its heavyweight An-124 airlifter to reduce its reliance on Russian suppliers. With the current political situation in Eastern Ukraine, Kiev has cut military ties with Moscow and is forcing Antonov to lessen its relationship with Russian spares suppliers, potentially threatening the supply chain of parts for the high-in-demand airlifter.
So Antonov is planning to undertake a Westernization project with one of the aircraft, sourcing new tires, brakes, and avionics. The work will be carried out during a program of heavy maintenance planned in 2016. This will be followed by a series of flight trials to prove the new parts, Antonov officials told Aviation Week on the sidelines of the Military Airlift and Rapid Reaction Operations conference here Dec. 1.
“The political situation has dramatically increased the need for Western parts,” Oleksandr Kiva, vice president and deputy general designer at Antonov, told delegates.  The An-124 has been in heavy demand by NATO forces for the last 15 years. It has supported the airlift of heavy equipment and supplies into Afghanistan through the NATO and European Union Air Transport and Air to Air Refueling Exchange of Services (ATARES) and Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (SALIS) programs.
Although Antonov builds the aircraft, it is also an operator, flying seven of the airlifters along with the only six-engine An-225. When chartered, the aircraft are flown by the company’s test pilots. Antonov has already been working on modernizing the fleet in recent years. Cockpit upgrades have been aimed at lowering the aircraft’s operating cost, primarily by reducing the flight crew from six to four. New avionics could reduce the number further, company officials say.
Westernization is not exclusive to the An-124. The company is also working with Saudi Arabia on a newly modernized version of the An-32 twin-turboprop airlifter. It will be powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada engine and a Honeywell Primus Epic avionics suite. An Antonov official told Aviation Week that a successful integration of the Honeywell system would likely result in integration into other Antonov family products such as the new An-178 twin jet, which is being targeted as a C-160 Transall and An-12 replacement.
Kiva also confirmed that development and production of the An-70 propfan-powered transport aircraft program had been frozen because the unique propeller system was only available from Russia. But the company is adapting the aircraft design, allowing it to be powered by a turbofan with a new designation, An-188. Kiva said there would be differences in performance with the propfan version, resulting in longer takeoff and landing distances. But it would still be able to operate from unpaved airfields and carry a maximum payload of 45 metric tons. No engine has been selected for the An-188.
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