Ukrainian aircraft manufacturer Antonov has expressed interest in establishing a maintenance facility in Sudan that would serve the country as well as the rest of Africa, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir has disclosed.
Al-Bashir on March 23 said the Ukrainian government had proposed setting up a maintenance facility to serve Africa at the Safat Aviation Complex, established in 2005 for the assembly, manufacture and maintenance of aircraft for Sudan’s military, reports the Sudan Tribune. Sudan’s Air Force has a number of Anonovs in service, including roughly half a dozen An-12s, half a dozen An-26s and half a dozen An-30/32s.
Sudan’s president also said that it will be mandatory for new military aircraft to be maintained at Safat, otherwise a contract will not be signed.
This is not the first time Antonov has considered establishing a maintenance facility in Sudan. During a visit to the Ukraine in February 2013, Sudan’s transport minister Babiker Ahmed Nahar discussed the possibility of establishing an Antonov maintenance and training facility in Sudan. Following the visit he said that Sudan was in talks to buy five Antonovs, either An-158 or An-148 models.
The proposed facility is part of Sudan’s efforts to improve the domestic defence industry, something promoted by defence minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein. He said that stronger armed forces are needed to ease conflict in places like Darfur.
Since the 1990s Chinese, Russian and Iranian companies have helped Sudan develop its domestic military industry, which manufactures small arms, artillery and armoured vehicles. The Military Industry Corporation (MIC) was established in 1993 to manufacture weapons and equipment for the Sudanese military and is now marketing its products internationally. Products include recoilless rifles, mortars, rocket launchers and upgraded armoured vehicles, amongst others.
For some time Antonov was engaged in discussions with Denel Aviation regarding marketing its aircraft in Africa and establishing a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) centre on the continent. However, the partnership with Antonov has been paused for now as the majority of Antonov aircraft in Africa are not flying.