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A planned new European military transport plane could be jointly developed by Airbus and the Russian-Ukrainian company Antonov, Germany's defense minister told a meeting of his NATO counterparts Thursday. "We have given a green light for a joint project," said Volker Ruhe after talks held in the Netherlands. Involving Antonov in the project would help keep down costs, which would be prohibitively high if Airbus were to develop the plane on its own, Ruhe said. Eight European countries this summer agreed to re-launch a project to develop a Future Large Aircraft, or FLA, to replace U.S.-built Hercules and the French-German Transall starting from the year 2004. The project had been suspended for a year because of concerns that developing the new plane would be too expensive. Development costs were estimated at around $7 billion. The eight European countries involved in the project have indicated they will need a total of 291 new planes: 75 for Germany, 50 for France, 45 for Britain and 44 for Italy. The other countries involved are Spain, Turkey, Belgium and Portugal. The FLA is to be a four-engine plane with a capacity to carry loads weighing up to 32 metric tons, with a breadth of four meters, over distances of 4,000 to 5,000 kilometers at a cruising speed of 700 kilometers per hour. Eight Western European business groups are to be involved in producing the aircraft: the four members of the Airbus consortium Aerospatiale, British Aerospace, Daimler and Spain's CASA plus Alenia of Italy, Belgium's Flabel, OGMA of Portugal and Turkish Aerospace Industries. Theodore Benien, a spokesman for Daimler Benz Aerospace in Munich, confirmed Thursday talks are being held with Antonov but would not give further details. "Cooperation with Antonov on the development and production of the new generation transport aircraft is conceivable, but there are no decisions yet," Benien said. "We think [Antonov's latest aircraft model], the An-70, is a very impressive aircraft," he said, adding that the consortium had expressed its interest to Antonov even before the Moscow air show. ()

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Airbus, Antonov Discuss Transport Plane Project // Lisbon: Digital Library of Portugal (LIBRARY.PT). Updated: 19.09.2017. URL: http://library.pt/m/articles/view/Airbus-Antonov-Discuss-Transport-Plane-Project (date of access: 19.06.2019).

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