Ukrainian state-run aircraft producer Antonov has signed airlift services deal with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union member states under the Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (SALIS) program, the Ukrainian government-run Ukrinform news agency reported on Friday.
"Under the five-year contract, Antonov must provide two An-124-100 aircraft on a permanent basis. They must be parked in standby mode at Germany's Leipzig airport. Upon additional request, Antonov must provide three more aircraft," Andrey Blagovisny, the head of the commercial department at the Antonov company, told reporters during a media briefing in Kiev.
The agreement also envisages that if the need arises, Antonov could provide the world's biggest plane -- the An-225 Mriya, as well as Antei, An-26, and An-74 transport aircraft to perform airlift missions in the interests of NATO and EU states, Blagovisny added.
The SALIS program allows its member countries to pool their resources to charter special aircraft that give the alliance the capability to transport heavy cargo across the globe by air.
Currently, nine countries, namely Belgium, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Norway, Hungary, and France, are participants of the SALIS program.
Ukraine has cooperated with NATO under SALIS since 2006. The current contract between the sides that was signed in 2019 expires on Dec. 31, 2021.