KIEV, September 7. /TASS/. The Ukrainian aircraft manufacturer Antonov has started production of the first prototype of the Antonov An-132 military transport plane under a joint Saudi-Ukrainian program, Antonov President Mikhail Gvozdev said at a news conference on Monday.
"The first prototype will be made in Kiev. It is planned for delivery to Saudi Arabia in the third quarter of 2016," Gvozdev said. He added that the contract had been signed in April 2015.
According to the manufacturer’s president, "This is the first aircraft in Antonov’s product range to lack any Russian-made components."
Gvozdev said Antonov and Saudi Arabia had signed a memorandum of understanding for co-production of 80 An-132 planes for that country. "Some of the aircraft will be manufactured in Ukraine. Concurrently, the manufacturing facilities for the plane and its components will be established in Saudi Arabia," Gvozdev added.
According to Gvozdev, the parties divided the aircraft intellectual property on a 50-50 basis. The cost of the plane has not been released yet. The An-132 can be equipped with engines from Pratt & Whitney.
Earlier, Antonov Designer General Dmitry Kiva said the An-132 was an upgraded version of the An-32 transport capable of operating from austere sandy airfields as well.
"We have doubled its range and improved its characteristics, including its fuel efficiency," Kiva said.
The An-32’s fuselage nose section, wing center section and engine nacelles will be modified during the upgrade, he added. The maximum payload of the An-132 will stand at 10 tons, the range will exceed 3,000 km and the cargo compartment will seat 71 paratroops. A medical evacuation version and a fire-fighting variant can be derived from the baseline An-132. "We estimate the market for the plane at about 900 units," Kiva said.