Russian Air Force moves against An-70, bringing defence industry relationships into question
By Charles Forrester
The Russian Air Force is preparing to brief against the country's proposed acquisition of the An-70 transport aircraft, according to Russian media reports on 5 February.
The air force drew particular attention to production delays in the programme, with production models of the aircraft still not ready for static testing. A similar aircraft being developed in Russia, the Il-476, is already undertaking static tests. A flying prototype of the An-70 is in operation, but has been occasionally withdrawn from service due to crashes and requests for upgrades from the Russian and Ukrainian air forces.
The media reports also cited criticisms about the aircraft's wings, developed in the 1980s and built by the now-defunct Tashkent Aircraft Production Organization (TAPO) based in Uzbekistan; the electronic control systems; and avionics.
The first An-70 fuselage was completed in December 2012, but work at the Russian plant in the city of Kazan has yet to commence. The delays have caused concerns in Russia, where questions have been raised about the industry's ability to hire workers and acquire manufacturing tools in an adequate time frame to avoid idle production lines.184 of 326 words
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