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NATO and Antonov negotiate additional airlift

09 July 2018
The An-225 is the largest airlifter in the world and could help NATO fill an outsized cargo gap following the announcement that SALIS provider Volga-Dnepr is to withdraw its services at the end of the year. Source: IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings

NATO and Antonov Airlines are negotiating a contract to provide additional outsized airlift following the announcement in April that Volga-Dnepr will no longer support the alliance.

The contract for between 1,300 and 1,600 flying hours of heavy airlift should be in place by the time the current agreement with Russian provider Volga-Dnepr expires at the end of this year, a NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) official told Jane’s on 9 July, adding that the agency was unable to provide additional information at this time.

Ukraine-based Antonov Airlines previously said it would provide the necessary number of An-124 aircraft to support NATO’s Strategic Airlift International Solution (SALIS) programme, after Volga-Dnepr said that the poor political climate between Russia and the West meant that it was unable to continue its participation.

While NATO does field strategic airlifters of its own – in terms of nationally operated Lockheed Martin C-5 Galaxy and nationally and alliance-operated Boeing C-17 Globemaster III platforms – it does not have enough capacity to service all of its current requirements. Under the existing SALIS agreement, Antonov Airlines and Volga-Dnepr contribute a total of six An-124 aircraft for charter services to NATO and partner nations.

As noted on the company’s website, Antonov Airlines specialises in the transport of outsized and project cargo worldwide using a fleet of one An-22, seven An-124s, and the world’s only An-225.

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