Russia has confirmed that it plans to upgrade AN-124 heavy transport aircraft and wants to increase its long-range cargo plane fleet by 2025.
This week, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu traveled to the Aviastar factory in Ulyanovsk (part of the United Aircraft Corporation) to inspect its Il-76 production, as well as the repair and maintenance of AN-124-100 heavy cargo aircraft.
UAC Director General Yury Slyusar reported to the head of the Russian military ministry on repair work and partial modernization of AN-124-100 Ruslan aircraft.
Sergey Shoigu specified the type of engines to be installed during the repair and modernization of the AN-124-100. Lieutenant General Vladimir Benediktov, Commander of the Military Transport Aviation, reported that “there are now two options of configuration – either modernized D-18T or PD-35”.
“Today we will consider issues that are extremely important for today – this is the state and building up the capabilities of military transport aviation. Taking into account the special military operation [Russians use this term to refer to Russia’s war in Ukraine], the workload of military transport aviation has increased many times over; we have surpassed the load that was on military transport aviation in the most stressful times of the Soviet Union by almost two times,” the Russian Defense Minister noted during the visit.
Sergei Shoigu added that the load continues to increase. In this regard, he drew attention to the fact that “firstly, we need to maintain the fleet that we have. Secondly, we need to increase this fleet by receiving new vehicles, which are the latest modification of the IL-76, which we have seen today and which we already have in our combat service. They, of course, show excellent combat characteristics, but there are also opportunities there to continue improving these machines, to increase their range, payload capacity.”
“In addition, today, we have to make decisions and consider all the issues on An-124 heavy transport aircraft. By 2025, we must double their number due to the fact that we now have both engines; we have opportunities and capacity to modernize these aircraft. By 2025, they should be doubled,” the head of the Russian military department said.