Ukraine, Air Foyle consider Canada tender
KYIV, Sept 6 - Ukraine's Antonov aircraft designing company and its sales agent Air Foyle of Britain are considering participation in a tender to supply heavy air cargo planes to the Canadian air forces, an official said on Wednesday.
Kostyantyn Lushakov, head of Antonov's subsidiary Antonov Airlines, told Reuters the tender would be announced in 2001. The terms of the tender would include financial leasing of planes for a period from five to eight years. "Antonov and Air Foyle are preparing to participate in the Canadian tender and we hope that our An-124 aircraft has good chances to win," Lushakov said.
"Our plane has unique technical qualities, but we worry that political motives will finally determine the choice," he said.
Earlier this year, the Ukrainian-Russian military air cargo plane Antonov An-70 failed to win an international tender to replace obsolete U.S.-made planes in European forces.
Many experts said that despite Antonov's technical advantages the NATO states preferred a European plane maker to avoid dependence on ex-Soviet aircraft industries.
Lushakov also said Canada needed a maximum of three strategic heavy cargo planes to transport its peacekeepers around the world, and the Ukrainian-made An-124 would be the best choice.
Antonov's Ruslan An-124 is already the world's biggest cargo aircraft with a 120-ton capacity.
Earlier this year designers said they planned to modernize the Antonov-124 in a bid to increase its capacity to 150 tons, and service life to 40,000 hours from a current 24,000.
Antonov Airlines operates eight An-124s, and Lushakov said the company was ready to lease all its cargo planes if the country benefited from the deal.
Antonov told Reuters on Tuesday the bureau was in talks with Air Foyle on joint work aimed to rehabilitate and modernize the world's largest cargo plane, the An-225 Mria (Dream), developed as a booster for the Soviet Union's space shuttle program but unused for more than a decade. It also said the Antonov-225 might make its first test flight by the year-end.