This achievement of Ukraine’s military is, however, only partial since the planes still require Russian details purchased via complex schemes through intermediary firms in United Arab Emirates and Italy. [/editorial]
Ukroboronprom had the task to modernize its 2015 model of An-178 in order to replace Russian-produced parts with domestically produced or western-purchased ones. The other task was to upgrade the model of the plane itself, adding modern technologies and equipment. The director of Antonov Enterprise Serhiy Bychkov reported that the new plane is built without imports from Russia, although the issue with details for engines remains.
The engines issue
An military planes, such as An-12 and An-26, have been produced by Ukraine’s company Antonov since Soviet times. While Antonov conducted all main works, the engines were usually imported from Russian factories.
An-178 is a new model of an Antonov military plane that corresponds to contemporary requirements. At the same time, the factory didn’t manage to drop Russian engine imports yet. It only replaced direct imports with imports through intermediary firms.
The director of Antonov Enterprise Serhiy Bychkov said during the presentation of aircraft on 28 December 2021, that the An-178-100R aircraft does not contain a single Russian-made part. The engines for the vehicle are manufactured in Italy.
“In particular, the TA18-100 engine was purchased from Aeromi International Ltd. This engine is manufactured in Italy. The same engines were also purchased for three An-178-100R planes built under contract with the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine,” the official message by Antonov company says.
At the same, according to the report by Taras Khortytsia on Defence.ua, the engines “made in Italy” are in fact made from the Russian details. The Italian company Officine Meccaniche Irpine S.r.L. received a license from Russian Aerosila to produce TA18-100 engines in Italy. It received the license in 2014, just with the start of global sanctions against the Kremlin.
Essentially, this means Antonov buys Italian engines on paper, but de-facto they are the same Russian engines assembled from Russian details in Italy. This is a typical scheme Ukrainian military companies use when they don’t want to or can’t drop the use of Russian details.
Upgraded An-178 benefits
At the same time, over the last five years, a considerable amount of details have been replaced to avoid other imports from Russia. The An-178-100P program involves more than 30 Ukrainian companies that have produced 177 types of components for this aircraft. Foreign suppliers from Europe, the USA, and Canada are also involved in the aircraft equipment. Additional changes have been introduced to the design of the aircraft in order to ensure the landing of people and cargo, as well as to perform other military tasks.
The demonstrated on 28 December 2021 first upgraded An-178 is designed for:
- transportation of people;
- transportation of special equipment and other material objects and cargoes;
- landing of special equipment and paratroopers;
- medical evacuation of the wounded and injured.
The plane can transport up to 86 paratroopers or evacuate up to 40 wounded soldiers.
On the initiative of Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian state has ordered three An-178 planes for the Ukrainian military in 2020. Two of them are already under construction, and works are going “ahead of the schedule” as Ukroboronprom says.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Antonov aircraft AN-124 Ruslan and the largest world cargo transport AN-225 Mriya was engaged in transporting and delivering medical supplies to many NATO countries around the globe.