Russia refuses to accept engineering documentations, necessary for the beginning of production of military cargo plane An-70, president and general designer of "Antonov" state enterprise Dmytro Kiva said during the international scientific conference "Russian-Ukrainian relations: realities and perspectives", being held in Moscow.

"We had been doing business and everything was just fine, but last October Russia suddenly stopped accepting documentation, though Kazanski plant was already defined as a producer and the agreement on serial production was signed," Kiva specified. The official blames it on "bureaucratic plots" and says Russia has more to lose.   
"An-70 is better than any similar foreign model," the general designer underlined. According to him, there are our planes in Europe, US and Chine, but not in Russia.

The official also reminded that one month ago a meeting was held between vice PMs Yuri Boiko and Dmitriy Rogozin, during which the parties agreed on continuation of works, but the documentation matter did not make any progress. "Russia prefers modernized Il-76, but this plane cannot transport all types of cargo due to its fuselage section. There are 21 types of obligatory items a plane must carry. Il-79 can transport only nine of them, which 45%," Kiva said and added that apart from being able to carry all items of aeromobile military and engineering vehicles used by armies, An-70 also can land on poorly-equipped unpaved runways and deliver cargo directly to the destination.

The project has had a long-running and troubled gestation over two decades. In 2002, Russia and Ukraine agreed on a 50-50 risk-sharing production deal, but Moscow withdrew from the project in 2006, only to rejoin the program in late 2009.

Does it mean that the plane has become a hostage of political intrigues of Russian officials? What does Russia want to show or prove with such decisions? ForUm has decided to ask experts...

Viktor Gvozd, head of the independent analytical center fir geopolitical study "Borisfen Intel":

- Obviously, it is a politically motivated decision. The closer we come to signing the Association agreement with the EU, the more similar decisions Russia will make. It proves once again that Russia and its organizations, like Customs Union or Euro-Asian Union, cannot be a constructive and reliable partner. Russia is working on the 'remake' of Soviet Union, but we should understand that clones can never be better than the original. Let Kyiv ask Boguslayev (Honorary President of "Motor Sich") about how he promoted his engines on Russian market. There also were certain agreements, but in the end, instead of Ukrainian engines Russia chose French and American. Motives of such decision are clear to all right-minded citizens.

What should we do in this situation? We should bank on true partners and undeceive the politically blind. If you do not believe, ask our neighbors from Belarus about "benefits" and "equality" they have being a member of the Customs Union.

Aleksandr Golts, expert on military-industrial complex (Russia):

- The Antonov An-70 is a four-engine medium-range transport aircraft, designed to replace the obsolete An-12 military transport aircraft. The maiden flight of the first prototype took place on 16 December 1994 in Kyiv. The Soviet government had shown interest in purchasing 160 planes for its military. But in the post-Soviet days of reduced military budgets in Russia, funding for the An-70 was cut. Moscow cancelled the order claiming the An-70 was a heavy, expensive cargo plane, while the Ilyushin Il-76MF reportedly cost half as much.

However, in August 2010, it was reported that user testing was taking place and that a requirement for 60 An-70s was included in Russia's 2011–2020 national armament programme when it was issued in December 2010. In June 2012, it was decided to carry out assembly of the An-70 at the KAPO factory in Kazan, Russia. The aircraft's wings, tail surfaces and engine nacelles would be built by Antonov in Kyiv.

An-70 indeed surpasses all the existent analogues airplanes - Airbus A400M (EU), C-130J-30 (US) and Shaanxi Y-9 (China) - on capacities and price. Thus, the problems of cooperation are of political character. It's a pity the things happen like this. Our countries have a huge potential in cooperation, and not only in the sphere of aviation.

Kost Bondarenko, political scientist, president of Institute of Ukrainian politics:

- In fact, we face global rearrangement of aviation market, and other players want either to exclude Ukraine from the process or to integrate us into something. Neither Russia not Europe wants to have Ukraine as an independent player. Moreover, Russia wants to show that without the Customs Union Ukraine has nothing to hope for. An-70 is a good plane, but they try to force Ukraine's aviation sector out of the market.

Borys Rybak, director general of analytical agency Infomost:

- Ukraine can continue development of An-70 aircraft without Russia and finance the project all alone. The plane is undergoing the final stage of flight tests, and then can be put on serial production.

There are no similar planes in the world. The machine is capable to lift more than 50 tons of cargo, to land on short and unpaved runways. There are certain loose ends, like  uncontrolled acoustical vibrations which affect structural toughness, but they can be and will be fixed. Russia's position, however, surprises. It does seem like an attempt to "take junior partner down a peg".

Vyacheslav Konovalov, expert on transportation:

An-70 aircraft belongs to a new generation of the short takeoff and landing tactical military medium transports. I have an example for you: during military conflict between Russia and Georgia in 2008, Moscow could not execute an offensive without military cargo planes securing the rear area. But Il-76, Russian universal transportation planes, could not land on those military airfield in South Ossetia and Georgia. An-70, however, could. But Russia suspended the project, and could not carry out the military operation properly.

So, why do they block the project? I believe for pure political motives. Moscow knows it cannot handle the production on its own, but it also does not want to share with Ukraine. They propose all kinds of excuses, change the conditions, sign numerous documents, but there is no political will to complete the project. Moreover, Russia does not have enough money for new projects. "Antonov" is now offering cooperation to other potential partners, like the EU, India, China. Europe, however, has chosen to produce their own planes A400M. India is still considering the offer. China is interested, but wants to participate for free - for future "perspectives" they say. Our country needs about 10-20 planes of this model, but we can also lease the machines as we do now with "Mria" An-225.

Volodymyr Lupatski, political scientist, executive director of the Center for social studies "Sofia":

- Russia does not agree easily on equal partnership.  It considers very project as a possibility to influence and get control. And the decision on An-70 proves the theory. If Russia has already defined a Russian enterprises, probably it can continue it alone.

In turn, Ukraine should focus on global and national markets, not the Russian one alone, because Russia is still not ready to join efforts and conquer markets of third countries.  


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