Saturday, June 22, 2024

New Russian aerial refuelling tanker makes maiden flight

Today on January 25 the flight prototype of the advanced Il-78M-90A aerial refuelling tanker has made its maiden flight.

The aircraft was piloted by chief-pilot of «IL», Hero of the Russian Federation, merited test pilot of the Russian Federation Nikolai Dmitrievich Kuimov, said in the report of the  Public Joint Stock Company “Ilyushin Aviation Complex”.

This aircraft is the first tanker, manufactured in Russia in the post-Soviet period. Earlier the production of IL-78 loceted in Uzbekistan.


The main designer of the aircraft – Ilyushin Aviation Complex, manufacturer – «Aviastar-SP» plant.

The new modified type of tanker was created on the basis of military and transport aircraft IL-76MD-90A. Design and development of engineering documentation, manufacture of the aircraft were carried out on the basis of the modern digital technologies.

More: Photos: Chinese tanker aircraft pass fuel to fighter jets

The aircraft is fitted with four engines of the new generation PS-90А-76 with the the high bypass ratio engine and increased take-off rating. They correspond to noise factor regulations, determined by Chapter 4 of Annex 16 of ICAO standard and also to exhaust emission level regulations. Their fuel consumption level is 12-14% lower than D-30KP engine mounted on the previous tankers modifications. That is why IL-78М-90А has increased flight distance and fuel capacity.

Control and navigation complexes are fully renewed and also the «glass cockpit» was implemented at the aircraft, what allows to decrease the pressure on the crew and increase safety of flights.
The newest tanker Il-78М-90А still has the option to be utilized as military and transport aircraft. Re-equipment of the aircraft won’t require a large amount of works and is possible in the conditions of an aerodrome. In case of necessity the aircraft can be fitted with fire-fighting equipment.

More: France’s first Phenix multi-role tanker transport completes maiden flight

In future Il-78М-90А will become the main tanker, adapted for aerial refuelling of aircraft of long range, front line and special aviation. It is able to refuel simultaneously two front line aviation aircraft (like Su-27/30/34/35, MiG-29/35). Refuelling of long range and special aviation aircraft is possible from the tail aggregate. If IL-78М-90А is positioned on the ground it can fill up to four aircraft simultaneously.
All the modernization works on the aircraft starting with the design and until the manufacturing of the flight prototype were conducted in digit with appliance of modern computer systems. Design and technology documentation for the aircraft is fully converted into the electronic form and launched for the serial production with usage of modern digital technologies.

The final assembly of the serial tanker will be conducted at Ulianovsk plant «Aviastar-SP», where the works on setting of the production line of final assembly of the heavy military and transport aircraft IL-76MD-90А and tankers IL-78M-90A are carried out at the present time. The line consists of several stations, providing the full assembly of aircraft. One of the most important – fuselage sections coupling station and station of airframe assembly, which include stands of Russian origin for jigless automated assembly. Automation of processes decreases the time of a fuselage coupling and airframe assembly. Assembly correctness control will be performed by the means of laser and optics measuring systems.

The new line shall allow to decrease a complexity of coupling works and ensure supervision of the quality, decrease dependency from a qualification of a technical staff.

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Executive Editor

About author:

Dylan Malyasov
Dylan Malyasov
Dylan Malyasov is the editor-in-chief of Defence Blog. He is a journalist, an accredited defense advisor, and a consultant. His background as a defense advisor and consultant adds a unique perspective to his journalistic endeavors, ensuring that his reporting is well-informed and authoritative. read more



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