In 2020 the Russian defence industries fast-tracked delivery of transport aircraft for the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS —Vozdushno-kosmicheskie sily).
The Il-76MD-90A military transport aircraft built at the Ulyanovsk Aviastar-SP JSC (part of the United Aircraft Corporation JSC) completed its maiden flight in December last year.
This is the third newly constructed Il-76MD-90A aircraft that flew in 2020. The contract between UAC and VKS includes 39 Il-76 military transport aircraft- a robust workhorse since the Soviet time nicked ‘Candid’ by NATO. The new version garnered the question – what is really new with the ‘Il-76MD 90A’ designation to place questions what is really new with this machine?
Russian experts claimed that 90A is a ‘completely new aircraft’ with key features as the PS-90A engines and a modern flight and navigation system. During the Soviet times, Ilyushin aircraft were produced at the plant in Tashkent, now independent Uzbekistan. Russia then shifted the production line to Ulyanovsk on the banks of the Volga river where the machine drawings were digitised. This allowed the improvement of the production line and sped up the process of its modernisation.
The new ‘Candid’ received an improved wing design with 4 Perm-made PS90A-76 engines with a thrust of 14.5t each, a reinforced landing gear to allow the use of all types of the airfield, upgraded electronic and navigation system, an airborne defence complex against anti-aircraft missiles providing jamming in infrared, ultraviolet and laser ranges as well as radar jamming. The plane received a ‘glass cockpit’ with 6 LCD screens. The new emergency evacuation system was also implemented.
The width and height of the cargo cabin are 3.45 and 3.4 metre respectively to transport various equipment including tanks and missile launchers.
The Il-76MD-90A can carry 126 paratroopers with full equipment, or 145 soldiers in a single-deck version and 225 in a double-deck version. The service life of the Il-76MD-90A is 30 years and can be extended.
The aircraft is capable to bring 60 tonnes of cargo on a distance of 4000 km, while 40t up to 6500km which is equal to a distance from Murmansk to New York or from Komsomolsk to Seattle. Being based in Irkutsk, the vehicle can reach any port in China, India and Middle East. The new engines have a drastically lower noise level and a fuel consumption ratio as 187 gram/t/km to allow commercial operations as well.
The Il-76 has been produced 900 times and exported to over 30 countries while in service in military and commercial operation, including fire-fighting.
The Il-76MD 90A has opened a new page of the ‘Candid’ history. This autumn Russia demonstrated to the Indian Air Force delegation how to use the Il-76 for so-called carpet bombing. The MoD released a video with practical bombing and firing of aircraft cannons at ground targets, carried out by the VKS regular crews in the Tver region of Russia as part of a control check. The flight altitude varied from 300 to 1000 metres and the speed exceeded 500 km / h.
According to the source, the flights were attended by the crews of the Tver, Pskov and Ivanovo air regiments, including young pilots. Each of the crew members flew at least three sorties.
India also has a fleet of 17 Il-76 transport aircraft, as well as seven Il-78 air tankers to allow the IAF to carry out similar missions.
According to experts, in the foreseeable future, the world’s major operators of military transport aircraft are going to gradually renew their existing fleet and Russian manufacturers are well-positioned for a strong share in this segment. In particular, the newest Russian military transport and special aircraft of the Ilyushin family have excellent export prospects due to aerodynamic perfection, reliability and cost-efficiency.
The new plane export version designated as Il-76MD 90A (E) has been marketed by Rosoboronexport and is to be shown as a part of the national exposition at Aeroindia -2021. The state arms dealer will definitely use upcoming events this year such as MAKS and Army to show off live demonstrations for potential customers from the CIS countries, Asia, Africa and Latin America.