Russian airlifter aviation faces problems – Part 2

To implement the plans, the enterprise has launched an automatic flow line, which decreases the labor intensity of docking Il-76MD-90A glider 40 percent and the final assembly four times. The projected capacity of the flow line is 18 aircraft a year. The new technology allows the enterprise to rapidly increase the pace of batch production of Il-76MD-90A.

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Russian airlifter aviation faces problems Part 2

Ilyushin Il-112B at its 2nd flight, in March 2021 (Picture source : UAC)

The first airlifter produced by the flow line was handed over to Aviastar-SP test station for ground and flight trials in May 2021. Thus, the enterprise produced only one Il-76MD-90A in the first five months of 2021. Batch construction of Il-76MD-90A and Il-78M-90A will renew the Russian airlifter fleet and expand its capabilities. However, Aviastar-SP has to produce 20 aircraft a year in the near future to fulfill the plan.

The air refueling system for Il-76MD-90A is vital. The main heavy US airlifters C-17 Globemaster III and C-5 Galaxy are equipped with it. Russian aircraft constructors have already installed the refueling rod in the nose of A-50 AEW aircraft developed from Il-76 and prospective A-100 developed from Il-76MD-90A. The air refueling system will expand the capabilities of Il-76MD-90A to deliver cargoes to Russian bases abroad (Syria, Central Asia) and remote Russian territories (Arctic, Kurile Islands). The air refueling system will make Il-76MD-90A more attractive for foreign customers. It is also necessary to equip the Aerospace Forces with a large number of air tankers. The contracts have to be signed in the coming years.

The fleet of Soviet-built light An-26 airlifters has to be replaced. The design of Il-112V began in the 2000s. It had to be delivered in the late 2000s, however the Aerospace Forces have not received a single aircraft so far.

Il-112V made the maiden flight on March 30, 2019. TASS quoted a defense industry source as saying the weight of the airlifter had to be decreased at least two tons. In October 2019, Shoigu said Il-112V prototype was being upgraded to decrease the weight. As a result, the project dragged and the airlifter made the second flight two years later in 2021.

Batch production of 12 Il-112V a year is prepared. It will suit the demand of the Defense Ministry in light airlifters and provide a sustainable load to VASO enterprise. The Defense Ministry expects the first serial Il-112V in 2023. The United Engine Corporation plans to launch batch production of TV7-117ST engines for Il-112V also in 2023.

Heavy An-124 airlifters have to be upgraded. The issue was raised in March at a meeting chaired by Shoigu at Aviastar-SP. It considered the implementation of An-124 contracts and the resumption of their production. In 2020, six An-124 were overhauled.

Airlifter aviation Commander Lieutenant-General Vladimir Benediktov told the Krasnaya Zvezda daily in May 2021 that the fleet of An-124 was maintained at a proper level. He said six An-124-100 flew together in January 2001 for the first time in Russian history.

It is necessary to provide new engines for An-124, as the current D-18T was produced in Ukraine. Shoigu said in October 2020 that Russia was engaged in capital overhaul and upgrade of 12 D-18T engines.

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