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MAKS 2019: Russia unveils new aerial tankers

Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) unveiled new aerial tankers at the MAKS 2019 aerospace show that was held in Zhukovskiy close to Moscow from 27 August –1 September.

The company presented its new Ilyushin Il-78M-90A tanker based on the Il-76MD-90A heavy airlifter. “The Il-78M-90A is the first aerial tanker produced from scratch in Russia,” said a UAC representative, explaining that previous Ilyushin tankers were built in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

UAC presented its new Ilyushin Il-78M-90A aerial tanker at MAKS 2019. (Nikolai Novichkov)

UAC presented its new Ilyushin Il-78M-90A aerial tanker at MAKS 2019. (Nikolai Novichkov)

The Il-78M-90A has been fitted with a new fuel transfer system, the pump performance of which has increased fuel flow by some 10% compared with the existing system on the Il-78M. Trials of the system are set to be completed before the end of the year.

The export version of the Il-78M-90A is designated as the Il-78MK-90A. According to UAC, the aircraft is in fact a multirole tanker-transport that, depending on range, transfers 47 – 78 tonnes of fuel or has a payload of 60 tonnes. The Il-78MK-90A has a maximum take-off weight of 210 tonnes and a ferry range of 9,300 km. It is powered by four PS-90A-76 jet engines that allow the tanker to refuel other aircraft at an altitude of 2,000 m – 9,150 m and at a speed of 450 – 650 km/h.

The Il-78M-90A, which made its maiden flight on 25 January 2018, is slated to become the main aerial tanker of the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) in years to come.

Ilyushin is also bringing the existing Il-78/Il-78M aircraft up to a modern standard. In late August, the company started tests of the Il-78M2, which features modern avionics and a service life that has been extended to 40 years.

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