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Russia upgrading An-72 airlifters for Artic operations


The Russian Defense Ministry contracted the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) to upgrade An-72 airlifters for Arctic operations. The aircraft has the engines above the wing which allows it to take off and land with a cargo of several tons. The ministry wants to have the takeoff weight, the range and payload increased, the Izvestia daily writes.


Russia upgrading An 72 airlifters for Artic operations 001 A VKS An-72 deploying in the Arctic region
(Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense)


The Defense Ministry told the newspaper it issued to the UAC the tactical and technical requirements for An-72 upgrade for the use in Arctic conditions. The main aim is to increase the takeoff weight from 32 to 34.8 tons to carry more fuel and payload. The upgrade will cover two An-72 of the Russian Navy and four aircraft of the Aerospace Forces.

They are all deployed at Ostafyevo airfield near Moscow. The upgrade will depend on the technical state of each aircraft. Experts will examine the glider and chassis to determine the remaining life cycle, make static durability calculations, and analyze cracks and corrosion areas.

The Ukrainian Antonov Design Bureau holds the An-72 copyright, but in Russia the Myasishchev Bureau is in charge of the craft design. The Zhukovsky Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) is also involved. The upgrade will be done according to the contract between the UAC and the Defense Ministry in the framework of defense procurement.
"UAC enterprises are maintaining various aircraft. We do not comment on specific work," corporation representative said.

An-72 modernization potential has not been exhausted, representative of the expert council of the defense and security committee of the Federation Council Yuri Zakharchenko believes. "The necessary upgrade can make the aircraft of the Defense Ministry very efficient. For example, they can use a shorter runway. Prospective concepts have to be designed and tested, but modernization of available aircraft is a reasonable and efficient path," he said.

The light An-72 airlifter combines good takeoff and landing capabilities and high flight characteristics. Good chassis flotation and relatively short takeoff (less than 1 km) help civilian An-72 operate in the Arctic where the construction and maintenance of airstrips is a very costly business. An-72 can land on ice. But it cannot boast major payload as heavy chassis and ramp have to be installed together with additional safety and reliability requirements which demand several standby systems, the Izvestia writes.


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