Kiev, April 20 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Ukraine has offered NATO its air transport capability to help the alliance withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.
According to NATO plans, most of the 130,000 foreign troops must leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, while the Afghan army and security forces are gradually taking over control of security in the war-torn country.
"We have offered capabilities of our transport aircraft fleet, which has been working with NATO for a long time, to assist in the transportation of troops and military equipment from Afghanistan during the withdrawal period," said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko.
Ukrainian heavy-lift transport aircraft Antonov An-124-100 are favourites at a new NATO tender for the fulfillment of strategic air transportation under the SALIS (Strategic Airlift Interim Solution) programme.
Ukrainian state company Antonov and Russian group Volga-Dnepr submitted in the beginning of April a joint application for the tender.
Up to six An-124-100s of the united fleet of Antonov and Volga-Dnepr have been involved in strategic air transportation in the interests of 18 NATO countries under a contract signed in 2006.
Since March 2006, An-124-100s have performed more than 2,100 flights under the SALIS programme, carrying more than 120,000 tonnes of military and civilian cargoes around the world.
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