Deputy Prime Minister Yurii Boiko announced on the Channel 5 television station on Wednesday that Ukraine and Russia have agreed to establish a joint venture for production of the An-124 Ruslan transport airplane, the Business TASS information agency has reported.
"A decision has been made to establish a joint venture for manufacture of the An-124 Ruslan. It is the largest aircraft in the world. We have received instructions from the prime ministers of the two countries to sign the founding documents at a meeting of the Ukrainian-Russian Committee on Economic Cooperation in September,” said Boiko.
Boiko said earlier, "The most realistic project is manufacture of the An-124 by a joint venture, taking into account the contribution of each side."
According to him, Ukraine can contribute technology and innovation to the joint venture while Russia can contribute funding and a sales market. "In this case, the relevant documents should protect the intellectual property of the joint venture against transfer to a third party," said the deputy prime minister.
According to Boiko, establishment of the joint venture will allow Ukrainian and Russian aircraft manufacturers to avoid competing against each other and focus instead on joint promotion of these airplanes on the markets of third countries.
The deputy prime minister also announced plans by the Antonov state enterprise and its Russian partners to implement other joint projects. "Our proposal, which has been supported by our Russian counterparts, is to create a pilot project for production of the An-124, demonstrate how it works, and then move to deeper integration on other aircraft, both passenger and specialized,” said Boiko.
As reported, talks on resuming production of the Ruslan airplanes have been going on for several years, but the process has almost failed to get off the ground because of lack of orders for the airplanes. The Russian Defense Ministry was expected to place the first orders for the new Ruslan airplanes, but the ministry determined at the end of December last year that it was not advisable to procure the airplanes.
The An-124-100 Ruslan airplane is the world's largest mass-produced heavy transport airplane. It has a load capacity of 150 tons. The leading operators of the aircraft are the Ukrainian-based Antonov Airlines and the Russian-based Volga Dnepr.
Since 2003, the Antonov state enterprise (Kiev), the Motor Sich company (Zaporozhye), and the Volga Dnepr company (Moscow) have been implementing a phased program for restoration of production, as well as development and production of a modernized version of the aircraft for the global market. According to estimates by various experts, serial production of the aircraft can be launched no earlier than the period of 2015-2020, and the projected order for the modernized aircraft is between 40 and 100. It was reported in January this year that Volga Dnepr could launch manufacturing the Ruslan airplanes in Germany.