Ukraine’s state-run defense production concern UkrOboronProm has won a major contract to produce its newest Antonov An-178 military transport aircraft for the Interior Ministry of Peru.
As the concern’s press service reported on Aug. 14, the Ukrainian plane prevailed over two competitors, the Italian-American Leonardo C-27J Spartan and C-295 produced by Airbus. The Antonov State Company, a legendary Kyiv-based aerospace manufacturer, was selected to produce an unspecified quantity of its An-178 planes that would replace older An-32B transporters, also produced by the Antonov, for the Latin American nation, UkrOboronProm stated.
The Peruvian tender evaluated the performance characteristics, delivery terms, extended warranties, personnel training, and other social and manufacturing preferences proposed by the bidders. Antonov scored a confident victory in the tender.
The Antonov An-178 military transport aircraft, pictured during a test flight (UkrOboronProm )
As the Defensa.com media outlet reported on Aug. 12, the Ukrainian bid presented by the SpetsTechEksport company, part of UkrOboronProm, offered a $65 million deal and gained 80.02 points during the Peruvian tender. The Leonardo C-27J Spartan presented by Italy at the same price obtained 66.22 points, while the Airbus C-295M offered by Spain scored only 58.60 points.
The An-178 is one of Antonov’s most recent developments. This short-range, medium-airlift military transport aircraft was designed based on An-158/An-148 regional passenger jet airliners and announced in early 2010. This model harnesses the benefits of Antonov’s successful passenger jets in a new plane specially designed for freight transport.
According to UkrOboronProm, the new plane was produced in cooperation with nearly 200 companies from 15 countries.
With a length of 32 meters and a 30-meter wingspan, the Antonov-178 is capable of carrying up to 18 tones of cargo, including high-capacity maritime containers, at the altitude of up to 12 kilometers and at a speed of up to 825 kilometers per hour.
The plane’s maximum flight range is 5,500 kilometers, although when carrying 10 tons of cargo it can travel only 3,680 kilometers. Apart from cargo, the aircraft can also be used for transporting military forces, namely up to 90 infantry troops or 84 paratroopers, or for recovering up to 78 injured personnel.
“In an emergency, the Antonov An-178 can be used to evacuate populations from natural disaster zones, transport the wounded… and for land rescue squads,” the company notes on its website. Moreover, according to designers, the plane can be modified for military purposes or the needs of the medical and emergency services.
The Antonov An-178 military transport aircraft, pictured during a test flight
The aircraft is capable of landing and taking off at any kind of airfields, including dirt runways.
Antonov says that, after Russia launched a war against Ukraine in 2014, the company stopped procuring Russian-produced equipment for An-178s as part of the country’s defense production phase-out program.
According to former UkrOboronProm director Roman Romanov, by 2016, 78 percent of An-178 components were produced in Ukraine, while 22 percent were procured abroad, with Russia excluded from the list of suppliers. A year before, nearly 41 percent of the aircraft’s components were procured in Russia.
According to Antonov’s chief designer, Dmytro Kiva, an An-178 costs an estimated $40 million.
The plane performed its maiden flight in May 2015.
In October 2015, the Antonov Company opened a public poll on Facebook to choose a special name for the new plane series, similar to the manufacturer’s many other famous creations such as legendary An-225 Mriya (“Dream”) or An-124 Ruslan (a male name).
Antonov An-178 aircraft pictured next to Ukrainian Humvee vehicles
Most of the voters on Facebook supported giving it the name “Bandera” after Stepan Bandera, a controversial Ukrainian Insurgent Army leader who lived from 1909 to 1959. Other popular options were the “Cyborg,” as a tribute to defenders of the Donetsk Airport in Donbas, and “Akhmet-Khan Sultan,” after a Crimean Tatar World War flying ace.
However, Antonov eventually declined to name the new plane Bandera “for political reasons.”
Shortly after the maiden flight, a number of customers expressed interest in purchasing the new plane. In particular, Iraqi armed forces ordered one An-178, and 10 were contracted for Azerbaijan.
Additionally, Saudi-based Тaqnia Aeronautics signed a memorandum with UkrOboronProm to declare its interest in buying 30 planes in late 2015, while the Airspace Industry Corporation of China also stated its intention to purchase 25 aircraft.
However, according to information taken from open sources, none of the Antonov An-178 have been exported so far.
In its press statement marking the successful tender in Peru, UkrOboronProm quoted its director general Pavlo Bukin as saying that the Latin American country “can become the new Antonov plane’s first export destination.”