The suspension of the An-132D multi-purpose transport project, one of the most promising enterprises of Antonov, Ukraine’s only aircraft manufacturer, has been confirmed by Aleksandr Donets, the president of the company, in an interview with a local news wire UNIAN.
The twin-engined turboprop is a new-generation version of the original 1976 Soviet/Ukrainian An-32 aircraft, but with no Russian-made components. The initiative was to be implemented by Antonov, in collaboration with Saudi Arabia.
“For reasons not related to the Antonov state enterprise, a change of the programme partner occurred in Saudi Arabia and the process has been halted,” Donets admitted.
The development of the An-132D was first announced in February 2015 after the signing of an agreement between Antonov and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and Taqnia Aeronautics. Flight tests on the An-132D prototype began in the spring of 2017.
With the installation of Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PW150A engines, the revitalised aircraft’s payload increased to 9.2 from the seven tonnes of the original An-32. It was assumed that the aircraft would be used by both military and commercial businesses.
The first 20-ship batch was supposed to have been assembled at the Antonov factory in Ukraine, with series manufacturing then transitioning to a dedicated, bespoke plant in Saudi Arabia, with the involvement of Taqnia Aeronautics and KACST. The beginning of mass production was scheduled for the end of 2021.
Donets explained that the Saudi military services were expected to become the launch customer for the An-132D, but have now decided that they need a slightly different airplane. The head of Antonov nevertheless insisted that the project is not being scrapped and the company is instead looking for a new customer. “We are looking for both a customer and a partner,” he said.
Earlier this year, Oleg Gladkovsky, the first deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, was reportedly entertaining discussions at the international aviation exhibition AeroIndia-2019, about the An-132’s opportunities with representatives from the Indian Defense Ministry.
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