Antonov has signed a ‘memorandum on delivery’ for 30 An-178 airlifters for the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF), the Ukrainian manufacturer announced on 18 December.

The memorandum was signed with Riyadh-based Taqnia Aeronautics based on the An-178’s “price and low operational costs”. As well as agreeing to supply the aircraft to the RSAF, both parties will jointly market the twin-jet transport aircraft to other potential Middle Eastern operators.

Having recently been showcased at the Dubai Airshow in November, the An-178 was first revealed in 2010 and made its maiden flight on 7 May of this year. It is essentially an An-158 regional jet with a rear loading ramp, while specifications listed in IHS Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft: Development & Production give the An-178 a cargo hold measuring 16.65 m including ramp, or 12.85 m excluding ramp; a 2.745 m width at the floor and a height of 2.75 m; and a floor area of 40 m² and a hold volume of 125 m³ (both including the ramp). Its wingspan is 28.84 m, it is 32.95 m in length and 10.14 m tall. The aircraft has a maximum payload of 18 tonnes and a range of 1,000 km fully loaded. Its cruise speed is 445 kt and requires a 2,500 m runway from which to operate. […]