U.S. Boeing Co. may conduct the final assembly of Russian-Ukrainian An-124 Condor heavy-lift transport planes for the U.S. market, a Russian business daily said on Friday, citing government officials.
The Kommersant newspaper cited Alexei Fyodorov, head of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation, as saying that Russia had proposed the joint production of the plane to the U.S. government and the White House had been discussing the issue with Boeing.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Kommersant that the issue would be on the agenda of President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to the United States later in June.
The An-124 was designed by the Antonov Design Bureau in 1982, and was produced in Ukraine's Kiev and Russia's Ulyanovsk plants until 1995. Although there are no An-124s being built at present, Russia and Ukraine have reportedly agreed to resume production in the future.
The plane is similar to the American Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, but has a 25% larger payload.
The aircraft has a maximum payload of 150 metric tons with a flight range of around 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles).
An-124s have been used extensively by several U.S. companies. The Russian cargo company Volga-Dnepr has contracts with Boeing to ship outsize aircraft components to its Everett plant.
United Launch Alliance contracts the An-124 to transport the Atlas V launch vehicle from its facilities near Denver to Cape Canaveral.
Space Systems Loral contracts the An-124 to transport satellites from Palo Alto in California to the Arianespace spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
The Pentagon has reportedly contracted An-124 planes for military transport purposes until 2016.
Russian experts believe that the future project could become reality only if a "political" decision is made to manufacture An-124 for the U.S. military. The civilian use of the plane is very limited, while the cost of up to $250 mln would require the production of a large number of such aircraft to make it profitable.
The Russian proposal has already drawn severe criticism from Ukrainian aircraft industry officials. The Antonov design bureau owns the rights for the design of the An-124 and the Motor Sich company builds engines for the plane and the Ukrainians do not want to lose their share of the profits to potential U.S. competitors.
MOSCOW, June 11 (RIA Novosti)