The An-70 military transport aircraft with short takeoff and landing has entered into operational service in the Ukrainian army, the Interfax Ukraine news agency reports. The acting spokesman for the Ukrainian army’s General Staff, Vladyslav Selezniov, said on 19 January that Minister of Defense Stepan Poltorak signed the corresponding order.

According to the agency’s sources in military circles, the decision to put the An-70 into military service was made by the head of the Defense Ministry on January 13.

Joint state testing of the An-70 wide-body military transport aircraft was completed by the aircraft’s manufacturer, the Antonov state enterprise (Kiev), and the Ministry of Defense in April 2014.

Based on the results of the tests, launch of serial production of the An-70 and its adoption into military service were recommended.

A version of the An-70 that was modified to meet the requirements of NATO – the An7X – was considered as the base for a new European medium-range transport aircraft, but preference was given to the A400M aircraft.

In terms of characteristics, the An-70 is superior to similar airplanes existing today, including the Airbus A400M, compared with which it is twice cheaper to purchase and operate. The An-70 has a maximum load-carrying capacity of 47 tons (compared with the Airbus A400M’s declared 37 tons) and a cargo compartment with a volume of 425 cubic meters (340 cubic meters for the Airbus A400M). The Airbus A400M costs EUR 145 million while the An-70 costs USD 67 million.

According to estimates by European experts, the market demand for air transport over the next ten years is 900 new cargo airplanes of the following types: An-124-100M-150, An-70, C-17, and A400M.