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Also known by its NATO reporting name of 'Curl', the Antonov An-26 is a twin-engined soviet era tactical transport aircraft and is the backbone of the current Russian Air Force tactical transport fleet with other 1,400 produced between 1969 and 1986. The An-26 is a development of the An-24 with the inclusion of a rear loading ramp. The loading ramp is multi-purpose installation that allows the cabin to be pressurised in the flight and can be used to load vehicles or can slide directly under the airframe to allow easy access by forklift truck for loading/unloading. The An-26 is also licence built in China as the Y-14.
The Romanian Air Force inherited a fleet of An-26 and An-30 transports following the collapse of the USSR. Since joining NATO, Romania has however sought to modernise and westernise its equipment. The Italian built C-27J Spartan has been ordered to replace both aircraft in Romanian service and deliveries are now well underway. The An-26 fleet will be retired by the end of 2023.
We are very pleased to announce that the final An-26 in Romanian Air Force service will be appearing on static display at this year's Air Tattoo. With the retirement being imminent, this will be the final time we will see one from the Romanian Air Force. Photo Credit: Tony Osborne