***Update on 04/11/2020 @ 20:31 UTC: Inserted additional details from UAC Russia****
The United Nations (UN) will utilize the Sukhoi Superjet for peacekeeping mission assistance as announced on April 4th by UAC Russia. These aircraft will be one of the largest to support current peacekeeping missions around the world.
UAC Russia announces the Superjet will support missions
On Twitter, UAC Russia released the following message:
The Russian Superjet-100 aircraft will be used for the needs of the United Nations peacekeeping missions pic.twitter.com/RmhioUQE96
— UAC Russia (@UAC_Russia_eng) April 4, 2020
Simple Flying reached out to the aircraft manufacturer for further information. Manufacturer Regional Aircraft, a part of UAC, confirmed that the aircraft will support United Nations missions. The SSJ100 is able to be modified to service a variety of needs including medical missions in specialized modules with a staff of medical volunteers. The aircraft is also capable of holding a variety of rescue equipment, satellite telephones, wifi, and equipment to control the intensity of radioactivity. In short, the aircraft has a long list of features that would be needed to support the United Nations’ missions.
United Nations peacekeeping operations
The United Nations runs peacekeeping missions around the world with support from various member nations. To support these operations, the United Nations leases out aircraft from various entities including Swiftair and Ethiopian Airlines per Planespotters. The current fleet consists of ATR, A320, 767, CRJ, Dash 8, and Embraer aircraft.
Per the United Nations, the organization is running 13 operations around the world with 110,000 peacekeepers currently deployed. To shuffle around troops and supplies, these planes are necessary. However, in some instances, different aircraft work to fit different needs. Short-haul hops to more rural areas that may not have large-scale aviation infrastructure are better suited for regional jets while larger deployments may require the larger 767.
In other cases, the United Nations leases out aircraft from operators. This is especially true when it comes to transporting larger equipment like vehicles.
In terms of the fleet, the Sukhoi Superjet will be one of the largest aircraft in the fleet. With a capacity of around 100 passengers, this aircraft will offer the United Nations support for larger-scale deployments or support missions where the 767 would be too large. The Superjet is also smaller than the Airbus A320.
It is unclear exactly how many of these aircraft will support the UN’s operations. The manufacturer is still working with the United Nations on a contract and agreement on the SSJ100 operations.
This is an interesting choice of aircraft. The Superjet has made some headlines, but not for the right reasons. In 2019, an Aeroflot Superjet suffered a fatal and fiery crash in Moscow. Later in the year, it became clear that Mexican carrier Interjet had fallen out of love with the aircraft. However, with the UN’s support, this may be the start of a new future for the aircraft. The organization will work out a maintenance deal and is not seeking to turn a profit, rather, the organization is seeking out the best aircraft to support its missions. Given the Superjet’s service for a number of Russian ministries, the aircraft is tested as a support vehicle.
What about other aircraft?
It is unclear if the United Nations considered any other aircraft. The 100-seat market has a few different options. The Embraer E2 family (particularly the E190-E2 and E195-E2) and the Airbus A220-100 are two other aircraft that would also fit in this niche.
A Russian plane, the Ilyushin IL-76 has supported the United Nations in the past. Now it appears to be the Superjet’s turn to support specialized missions.
Outside of commercial passenger and cargo airlines, aircraft fulfill other vital roles such as transporting heads of state and support peacekeeping missions. Now, the United Nations has selected the Superjet to support future peacekeeping operations. It is, however, unclear exactly how many aircraft and when these planes will be deployed. But, once the deal goes through, it could mark a change of fortune for the jet.
What do you make of the UN selecting the Superjet to support peacekeeping missions? Let us know in the comments!