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Russia continues creation of heavy Slon airlifter

The Zhukovsky Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) presented  an aerodynamic model of the super heavy four-engine Slon (Elephant) airlifter which is to replace Ruslan An-124, the Zvezda weekly writes.

Russia continues creation of heavy Slon airlifter The Ilyushin Il-106 Slon (lit. 'Elephant') is a Russian next-generation heavy military transport aircraft, currently under development by Ilyushin within the PAK VTA programme (Picture source: TsAGI)

The work is ongoing since 2015. In 2017, the project was officially approved at MAKS airshow in Zhukovsky. It took specialists two years to determine the wing shape and the total appearance of the biggest airlifter in the world with a carrying capacity of 150-180 tons. The model is ready for tests in a wind tunnel. There is no similar aircraft in the world. The Russian Volga-Dnepr Airlines operates Ruslan also for the United States. The Russian aircraft industry has no equals in the market segment. Slon will continue the tradition.

The new airlifter has a range of 7000 kilometers and the cruising speed of 850 km/h at the carrying capacity of 180 tons. The project is developed according to a contract with the Russian Industry and Trade Ministry.

The aerodynamic model for wind tunnel trials is no mockup, but has all the aerodynamic characteristics of the airlifter which is yet to be built.

There are several countries in the world with sufficient knowledge in aircraft construction. Each can create onboard electronic equipment and design various onboard systems. However, only four countries can produce the necessary power plants, as it takes 20-30 years of uninterrupted work of a big number of aircraft engineers to take off the new aircraft. The long-range aviation knowhow is available in Russia, the USA, France and the UK.

The Russian aircraft industry boasts an unprecedented level of new alloys creation. Professor Oganov heads the laboratory of prospective materials. It designs new materials and creates them. The work is important for the prospective airlifter, as various combinations of composite materials and metal parts result in different behavior of the aircraft in an airflow.

"The wing was the most intensive work, as it has a complicated spatial form to ensure high aerodynamic characteristics at cruising regimes," TsAGI technological office deputy head Andrey Sidorov said.

The prospective Slon airlifter will be tested in a tunnel with variable airflow density. The designers have already determined the concept and the load carrying structure of the aircraft. After the trials are completed, several secondary components of the basic platform may be specified, the Zvezda said.

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