The first plane is expected to be produced in 2005
The decision to resume the funding of the state defense order for the production of the military An-70 transport plane will be made within a week or two. This was said by deputy director general of the Russian Aviation and Space Agency (Rosaviakosmos), Georgy Polischuk on Friday. Mr. Polischuk added that the position of the government to resume the defense order for the production of An-70 planes had already been determined. However, several departments of the Defense Ministry have not yet expressed their point of view regarding the issue. "We hope for a considerable commercial use of the plane," Georgy Polischuk was quoted as saying.
An-70 is the joint project of Russia and Ukraine, the aircraft will be produced at the enterprise Polyot, which is located in the Russian city of Omsk (Siberia). Georgy Polischuk also said that the development of the plane's production would determine the future of the company. Rosaviakosmos and other federal bodies have already provided their support for the production of the An-70 plane in Omsk.
Grigory Murakhovsky, the chief engineer of the company Polyot told reporters that the first plane would be finished in the first quarter of 2005, if it were possible to start the production soon. However, it was originally planned to produce the first plane at the end of 2004. For the time being, the company deals with the execution of international obligations to produce Nadezhda satellites for rescue services. This year the company has already produced several commercial satellites. In addition to that, the enterprise has received a state order to produce three global navigation system satellites in 2003. Furthermore, Polyot will manufacture a new spacecraft, the purpose of which is not known yet.
According to experts' estimates, the gap in the implementation of the An-70 production program makes up not less than six months. The completion of the state program in 2004 will require the funding of $80 million. The scientific and designing works on the project have been completed, a half of the flight test program has been finished as well.
Officials from the Russian Defense Ministry have recently stated that the An-70 aircraft project is not good for Russia due to poor technical data and high cost. Yet, President Putin said in May of 2003 (during negotiations with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma) that the implementation of the project should be continued.
The program of the military transportation An-70 aircraft (short take off and landing plane) is being implemented by Russia and Ukraine on the base of intergovernmental agreements signed on June 24th, 1993 and on May 19th 1999. An-70 is capable of carrying 35 tons of cargo. State customers of the project are Russian and Ukrainian defense ministries, the principal designer of the plane is the Antonov Design Bureau (Kiev, Ukraine). The first An-70 crashed in 1995 during a flight test on the outskirts of Kiev, another plane crashed in 2001 not far from Omsk.