The Antonov An-178 made its debut at the Farnborough International Air Show, which marks the aircraft’s third major Western air show since 2015.
Comment and Analysis
Derived from the An-158, the An-178 is being marketed as a military transport aircraft comparable to the C-130 and the up and coming KC-390. Powered by wo Ivchenko Progress D-436 turbofans, the An-178 is capable of carrying 18 tons, making it a lighter platform in comparison to the C-130J’s 22 tons and KC-390’s 23 tons. However, its key selling point seems to center on cost, which is apparently much lower (at around $40 million a unit) in comparison to its direct alternatives.
The An-178 secured a firm order of two aircraft from Silkway Airlines, an Azeri cargo carrier planning to procure a total of ten An-178s. Saudi Arabia also committed itself to acquiring 30 An-178s. Ukraine and Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a transport aircraft based on the An-178.
According to Antonov, variations of the An-178 are being considered, e.g. air-to-air refuelling and a Westernized variant using General Electric or Pratt & Whitney turbofans and Western avionics.
If the An-178 platform comes to full fruition and enters production, it may emerge as a popular system for countries seeking a more affordable alternative to the expensive – but incredibly venerable – C-130J Hercules. A major market (comprised of mainly antiquated Antonov aircraft) could emerge for the An-178, especially over the medium and long-term.