Cooperation between Russia and Ukraine on the An-70 military aircraft has been terminated. According to a source at the Russian Defense Ministry, Russia will insist on the return of its investment share (70%) in the project. Is it a big loss for the Russian army? Bigness.Ru, a business project of Pravda.Ru Media Holding, had a brief interview with senior officer at the Center for Euro-Atlantic and Defence Studies of the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies (RISS), Igor Nikolaichuk, to find an answer to this question.
"What analogues of AN-70 does the Russian army have? What was the need to build the aircraft together with Ukraine?"
"I think that modifications of the good old IL-76 have been a basic transport aircraft for the Russian and Soviet army for 30 years already. The aircraft is still produced, and it operates successfully. I would like to note that the IL-76 is extremely easy to use. This aircraft enjoys great popularity, it is literally a favorite for airfield teams and technicians. There was no special need to create the AN-70.
"Of course, the An-70 was created on the basis of a new design, and, probably, new technologies. Most importantly, it has super saving turboprops with counter-rotational short propellers. The development of those engines, their testing and commissioning would be and was a breakthrough to a certain extent. These engines have never been produced in the former USSR before. The An-70 itself, if you look close at it, is a simple aircraft. Of course, it provided for some advantages for transport operations of the Russian army. It was assumed that the mobility of the Russian army would be significantly increased with the help of the aircraft.
"Yet, there is one little detail. I do not know whether my colleagues agree with me, but in recent years, as experience shows, the transportation of considerable quantity of equipment for many thousands of kilometers, let alone the transportation of paratroopers, has not been practiced. All is solved with the help of small units.
For about 15 years, the United States has moved to the brigade level of the formation of its armed forces. During this time, despite the huge number of conflicts, in which US soldiers are involved, brigades have never traveled anywhere en masse - either on board an airplane or on ground transport. The US used small rapid response teams from brigade units. Those teams worked in Afghanistan and now they work to neutralize ISIS militants. Therefore, jumbo transport aircraft, capable of transporting heavy weaponry and large masses of troops at considerable distances is not very important. Thus, I do not think that the refusal to develop the An-70 with Ukraine can cause serious damage to Russia's defense. But of course, this is a good plane and its appearance would be desirable, since the whole project was actually taken to the mass production stage."
"Russia paid 2.95 billion rubles for the works on this project with Ukraine. Is there a legal opportunity to return this money?"
"Of course, there is a legal opportunity to return the money, because the Ukrainian side suspended military-technical cooperation in this area. Yet, does Ukraine have this money?"