Russian Minister of Defense, Anatoly Serdukov, has taken a decision to extend service life of one of the oldest aircraft of Russian air forces – An-22 “Antey” until 2020, Izvestiya reports.
The serial production of An-22 aircraft was being carried out in Tashkent (Tashkent Aviation Production Association) during a period from November 1965 to January 1976. As reported by a representative of Russian air forces, the aircraft needs new engines and landing gear. Training of pilots is also necessary.
However, propellers for these aircraft are not manufactured anymore, that is why Anteys will be performing flights using old propellers, which may break down at any time. «The major problem of Antey is propeller. Propellers have been manufactured in Stupino before, but the production was ceased in 1990s. The ones mounted on the old aircraft have cracks and fatigue damage », — the representative of Russian air forces familiar with the situation explained.
As explained by a representative of the Ministry of Defense, the main reason for resuming the operation of outdated An-22 aircraft is workload of An-124 heavy transport aircraft caused by commercial transportation. At present Аn-124 aircraft owned by Russian air forces are fulfilling commercial orders in 224th aircraft division, which apparently will be taking part in transportation of NATO’s cargo through Ulyanovsk. «Of course these orders are profitable for the Ministry of Defense, but the air forces need a heavy transport aircraft for their own needs, but all of An-124s are busy. In 2011–2012 An-124 aircraft have not performed a single flight on behalf of Russian air forces», — the source noted. He added that the air forces also have a lot of Il-76 aircraft, but they are less efficient as compared to Аn-124 and Аn-22 aircraft, — they have lower weight-lift ability and Il-76s are unable to transport oversized cargo.
At present Russian air forces have 24 Anteys: six are in limited operation (the aircraft perform 1-2 flights per year), the rest 18 ones are grounded.
The manufacturer of An-22 “Antey” aircraft, Antonov State Enterprise, said that it is negotiating with Russian Ministry of Defense regarding extension of service life of Аn-22 aircraft, which expires in 2013. The “Program for extension of service life of aircraft operated for more than 40 years” was developed in cooperation with the Russian party. It is focused only on An-22s. It is planned to extend the vehicles’ service life to 50 years. The work will be carried out at 308th aircraft overhaul plant (Ivanovo). The program is being considered at the moment, — the representative of Antonov noted.