The Antonov An-26 is now a comparatively rare sight in European skies, many of the former Warsaw Pact air arms having retired the type - known under the NATO codename system for Soviet-built aircraft as the 'Curl' - in favour of newer Western equipment. The Hungarian Air Force, however, still has four An-26s on strength with its fixed-wing transport squadron at Kecskemét. The twin-turboprop tactical transport made its maiden flight in 1969, and was produced to the tune of over 1,400 examples. It was based on the earlier An-24, incorporating a rear loading ramp among other improvements. Extensive sales to Communist countries for both military and civil use were guaranteed, but numbers in service are now dwindling. Hungary is expected soon to begin the search for a replacement for its An-26 fleet.
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