Saratov Aviation Plant and US-based Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR, working in the field of logistics of Naval Aviation USA) have signed an agreement to manufacture a new generation of aircraft "EKIP" (the name — an abbreviation of "Ecology and progress"). Under the agreement SAZ will head assembly production, testing and flight research center project. The U.S. side provides funding for the project. Dimensions alleged investment were not disclosed. But, according to the experts, the project will require more than $ 160 million
The device that resembles a flying saucer (in the form in which it is presented fiction), was designed by Academician Lev Shchukin more than a decade ago. With a unique performance, development has repeatedly drawn the attention of various airlines, including Boeing. However, on the investment so far no one dared. Their own forces at the SAZ, where to build Yak-42/42L, Yak-141, and a light aircraft L-41 "Falcon" on the plate is clearly not enough. The company is not even able to pay off wage arrears (more than 15 million at February 2003).
Meanwhile, interest in the "Equipo" in recent years has increased many times, and wish to purchase this unit expressed firm in China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Greece, the Middle East, as well as the Russian Emergencies Ministry. Perhaps this has convinced the U.S. NAVAIR in the prospects of the project.
Due to its shape (body fuselage and combined into a single "thick wing") "EKIP" is improved in comparison with conventional aircraft aerodynamic characteristics. This, in turn, allows you to save up to a third the cost of freight and passengers. In addition, instead of the chassis in "L'Equipe" used airbag, it enables the machine to use for landing and take-off is not only hard coatings airfield, but also water and soft soil.
At the same carrying capacity (depending on the modification of 4-16 tons or 40-160 passengers), height (2-10 km) and range (6 million km) flight, as well as the price ($ 10-40 million), "EKIP "comparable to" traditional "regional and long-haul aircraft.
The first "flying saucer" to fly over the Saratov in 4-5 years, and mass production will be set no earlier than 7-8 years.