17:01 GMT08 May 2021
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    Ukraine's Antonov aircraft manufacturer has completed the first stage of upgrading An-26 (Curl) transport aircraft for the country’s Defense Ministry, the company said in a statement.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The upgraded aircraft would be the first one to be dispatched for special operations against independence supporters in eastern Ukraine. A total of 14 aircraft will be modernized, the company specified.

    "An-26 will, in particular, be protected against shelling from portable surface-to-air missile systems… We have significantly increased the pace of work related to the anti-terrorist operation [term Kiev uses defining armed conflict in Donbass]," the statement read.

    New An-148 regional twin-jet passenger aircraft during its first flight from the Antonov aircraft factory in Kiev, Ukraine
    © AP Photo / Myshko Markiv, File
    Over 20 An aircraft have already been repaired and delivered to Ukraine’s east by the company.

    The conflict in Ukraine's southeast began in April 2014, when Kiev launched a military operation against independence supporters, who had refused to recognize Kiev authorities following a February coup.


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