Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 132

The commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, Gen. Volodymyr Antonets, yesterday suggested that Ukraine might scrap the 40 ex-Soviet strategic bombers it inherited unless the Russians agree to buy them for "a fair" price. He said that it costs $400,000 each year to properly maintain just one of the 19 Tu-160 supersonic "Blackjack" bombers, and that it would cost $200,000 to scrap it. The older Tu-95MS "Bear" missile-carriers cost $215,000 to maintain and would cost $167,000 to scrap. Antonets admitted that the maintenance figures were inflated since the planes were not being flown. Yet he insisted that all of the aircraft except one Tu-160 are "in a technically proper condition." (Ukrainian agencies, July 7)

The Russian Air Force appears to have written off the Ukrainian aircraft. Earlier in the year Russian Air Force commander Petr Deinekin said Russia would be willing to take the planes "as a gesture of goodwill," but various analysts have noted that Russia has an ample supply of Tu-95s which could perform the same mission as the Tu-160s for far less money. Deinekin has also announced that Russia is working on a new strategic bomber. It seems likely that he would prefer to put scarce resources into research and development on this new plane rather than into the long-neglected Ukrainian aircraft.

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