The Antonov 124 is a product of Soviet-era policies. Like other aircraft, after production stopped, it became ever more useful.
A while ago Russia and Ukraine were talking about talking about the An-124. Before this, they are at loggerheads.
The latest news is they are at loggerheads again.
The certificate for the An-124 is Antonov property and that now means Ukrainian. But all the An-124 innards and avionics are Russian. The An-124 fleet is in the hands of the Russian air force, Volga-DNEPR and Antonov Airlines. Antonov has the weak hand here, certificate notwithstanding. Antonov does not have the financial wherewithal to do anything to update the aircraft beyond its most recent update to the An–124-100M. The newest Antonov model, the An-158 is in trouble.
On the other hand, Russia does have the resources via UAC, to effect more updates and upgrades. As the linked article suggests this could be affected by “The avionics, the chassis design, the new engines. It will be based on An-124, but really it will be another aircraft”. Perhaps an IL-125, or Tu-125, as wildcards? UAC would most likely want to parcel work out among its design bureaux. Sukhoi is doing business with its SSJ. IRKUT’s MC-21 is deep into flight tests. Ilyushin and Tupolev likely have some capacity. Moreover, Russia has the banking industry to help finance customer orders.
On the one hand, the An-124 as we know it may be running out of steam. But the future of the super-heavy transporter segment may be about to get a new player.
Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.