Update — Antonov is now a Ukrainian company, but in the days of the Former Soviet Union it made transports and utility aircraft for the “Russian” military, civil air companies and Warsaw Pact nations. My bad for being old school.
It came out today that there will be a third bidder for the Air Force’s new KC-X aerial tanker program. US Aerospace will propose a system based on Antonov platforms from Russia. There had been earlier rumors that the company would team with Ilyushin to offer a variant of the IL-86 airliner for this, but that had seemed to go nowhere.
Antonov makes large transport aircraft such as the AN-124 used to move outsize cargo across the world. According to US Aerospace they may offer a version of the AN-124 or an aircraft called the “AN-112”. The 112 is supposed to be based on earlier turboprop transport heavily used by the Soviet Union and its allies.
The submission of a third bid will change the competition quite a bit. A Russian based aircraft may certainly be cheap putting pressure on both Boeing (BA) and EADS (EADS:P) to review the cost of their proposals.
US Aerospace, similar to EADS, will assemble the aircraft in the U.S. and add the military specific equipment themselves. This will also include the flight refueling equipment.
They only have about two weeks to get a proposal together so if they do end up bidding it will be very interesting.
What less then a year ago seemed to be a program with only one company bidding, Boeing, now looks to have a chance to have three.
This program seems only to get more complicated.