The First Flight of IL-78M-90A Air Refuiling Tanker
The First Flight of IL-78M-90A Air Refuiling Tanker

The First Flight of IL-78M-90A Air Refuiling Tanker


The maiden flight of the new Ilyushin Il-78M-90A aerial refuelling tanker for the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS/Vozdushno-Kosmicheskiye Sily) took place on 25 January. The VKS is expected to buy 34 of the new tankers to replace its current Il-78s. The Il-478 can carry 91 tonnes of fuel in its main tanks, plus another 36 tonnes in an auxiliary tank in the cargo hold to give 127 tonnes of transferable fuel. The Il-78M-90A (previously referred to as the Il-478) is based on the new Il-76MD-90A (Il-476) transport aircraft, which is itself a modernised version of the Soviet-era Il-76 ‘Candid’ airlifter.

The new tanker version shares the avionic, structural, and powerplant improvements of the upgraded transport aircraft. These enhancements include a digital ‘glass’ cockpit as well as modernised flight, navigation, and communication systems. Structural improvements comprise a modified wing and reinforced landing gear. The new aircraft powered by four PS-90A-76 turbofan engines instead of D-30KP-2. The engines have also been updated, giving the aircraft a 60-tonne payload (up from 40 tonnes for the baseline Il-76/78) and a 12% reduced fuel consumption. The aircraft will allow simultaneous fuelling of two front-line planes (Su-27, MiG-29) with wing-mounted fuelling units. The tail unit allows refueling of long-range and special-purpose aircraft. Also when used on the ground the Il-78M-90A will allow simultaneous refueling of four aircraft.

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The new Ilyushin Il-78M-90A will allow simultaneous fuelling of two front-line planes (Su-27, MiG-29) with wing-mounted fuelling units. The tail unit allows refueling of long-range and special-purpose aircraft. Also when used on the ground the Il-78M-90A will allow simultaneous refueling of four aircraft.

The First Flight of IL-78M-90A Air Refuiling Tanker
The First Flight of IL-78M-90A Air Refuiling Tanker
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