Ukraine offers NATO heavy transport aircraft Ruslan

The Ukrainian Antonov aircraft factory in Kiev will demonstrate its heavy transport airplane, the An-124 Ruslan, for NATO and the German Defense Ministry, which is part of a program to transport NATO forces to Afghanistan.

As reported to a Rosbalt correspondent by the company's press office, the demonstration will take place May 10 in Berlin at the international aerospace show ILA-2004. While there, the Ukrainian participants will discuss ways the aircraft can be useful to NATO.

The Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers and NATO have signed a memorandum on the use of Ukrainian strategic transport aircraft for NATO missions and training. An agreement was signed in 2003 by NATO regarding the use of the Ukrainian An-124-100 for the strategic transport of alliance forces until such time as the European transport aircraft A400M is ready. A preliminary agreement calls for six Ruslan aircraft to be leased beginning in 2005.

The An-124-100 Ruslan has a cargo capacity of 120 tons, while a modernized version will be able to carry 150 tons. Russia and Ukraine are the world's main operators of the An-124-100.

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