The Russian cargo aviation company Volga-Dnepr will stop providing An-124 heavyweight cargo aircraft to NATO by the end of the year, the French publication Challenges reports.
According to the publication, Russia made the decision in response to recently tightened sanctions by the US.
In 2006, a joint enterprise between the Ukrainian company Antonov Airlines and the Russian air cargo company Volga-Dnepr was established as a part of SALIS (Strategic Airlift International Solution) project.
The enterprise provided cargo transportation services for NATO using 17 An-24 (Ruslan) cargo planes. The An-24 boasts the most powerful weight-lifting capacity in the world, and from 1982 to 1988, it was also the largest cargo aircraft. It has the ability to lift up to 120 tons of cargo and carry it with a maximum speed of up to 865 kilometres per hour.
According to Challenges, the decision of Volga-Dnepr to terminate services would be a tangible blow to the French Army, as it remains dependent on An-24 aircrafts for the transportation of helicopters and tanks, despite using Airbus A400M aircraft.