Ukrainian plane maker Antonov has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Saudi Arabia-based ?aqnia Aeronautics to deliver new short-range medium-airlift transport aircraft, AN-178, to Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF).

As part of the MoU, both the companies have agreed to supply 30 AN-178 aircraft to the RSAF.

Commenting on the agreement, ?aqnia Aeronautics president retired major general Ali Mohammed Al-Ghamdi said: "Signing of this Memorandum is the next significant step in development of our cooperation. We have signed the documents on interaction within the programme of the AN-132 new transport and further promotion of the AN-148 special-purpose versions."

"Signing of this Memorandum is the next significant step in development of our cooperation."

Al-Ghamdi said that the AN-178 aircraft provides low operational costs advantages in comparison with other airplanes of this class.

He added: "Besides, we will realise joint marketing policy on promotion of the AN-178 into the markets of other countries of Middle East. In the future we plan cooperative production of this aircraft."

Rolled out in Kyiv in April this year, the first An-178 prototype completed its maiden flight in Ukraine in May this year.

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By GlobalData

Based on the An-158 aircraft, the new An-178 airframe is constructed with aluminium alloys and composite materials and the base platform of the AN-178 can be developed into a number of civil and military variants.

It will be capable of carrying 99 soldiers, 80 paratroops and will be able evacuate 70 sick and wounded people.

Antonov received orders from Silk Way Airlines, a cargo airline from Azerbaijan, and a customer in China for ten and two An-178 aircraft, respectively.

Image: Officials of Antonov and ?aqnia Aeronautics during signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Photo: courtesy of Antonov Company.