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PAK VTA airlifter concept to be finally determined in 2020


The concept of the Prospective Airborne Complex of Military-Transport Aviation (PAK VTA) will be finally determined in 2020. It has to replace the heavy An-124-100 airlifter. The Ilyushin Company is engaged in the R&D. It also upgrades Ruslan airlifter to An-124-100M. The technical project is to be approved in late 2019. After that the airlifter will be completely Russian, the Army Standard writes.


PAK airlifter concept to be finally determined in 2020 A conceptual aircraft called PAK VTA illustrated by Alexey Komarov, Customer and Technical Manager at Volga-Dnepr Group
(Picture source: Vimeo/Alexey Komarov)


Upon Ilyushin orders, Aviastar-SP enterprise in Ulyanovsk, which assembled Ruslan, will re-equip and test the upgraded aircraft. In Soviet time, An-124 Ruslan was designed to carry mobile missile complexes weighing over a hundred tons. Another payload option can carry 440 armed paratroopers.

There is a big demand in airlifters with such a carrying capacity. They are necessary to airlift mobile troops to major distances. In late 1990 - early 2000s, there were calls to abandon such airlifters, as their maintenance was expensive and the country had little political and military ambitions to be implemented with the use of the aircraft.

Ruslan airlifters were no longer viewed as military aircraft. They developed into commercial heavy carriers. However, NATO continued to actively use Ruslan to airlift military cargoes to Afghanistan and leased the aircraft from the Russian Volga-Dnepr Company and the Ukrainians.

As relations with NATO and Ukraine deteriorated, the maintenance, operation and modernization of the airlifters in Russia became more and more complicated each year. Ukraine, as the designer of An-124, impeded Russian operators. In particular, the Antonov Company banned the flights of five An-124-100 of Volga-Dnepr claiming their life cycle had been extended in violation of ICAO rules, i.e. bypassing the Ukrainian designer.

The Antonov has recently banned Russian enterprises to provide technical maintenance to An-124. It can deny foreign flights to Russian airlifters.

Russia has numerously raised the issue of independent resumption of Ruslan production. Kiev was always against the idea and claimed Russia would never cope with the task without Ukraine.

Some experts believe, the upgraded airlifter will have Russian engines instead of Ukrainian, new center wing, chassis, ramp, fins and avionic solutions. It means it will be no longer an An-124, but a new option created by Russian designers on the basis of Ruslan.

PAK VTA is specifically interesting in this connection. Little is known so far how it would look like. The characteristics are being agreed with the military. The new airlifter is of interest for the military and civilian operators.

It is only known that the super heavy airlifter designed by Ilyushin will surpass An-124 in tactical and technical characteristics. The glider will use composite materials.

Appropriations for the project are envisaged in the arms program up to 2027. In 2014, the Military-Industrial Commission outlined the desired characteristics of the airlifter: the range of at least 7 thousand km and the carrying capacity of 200 tons.

So far, the Ilyushin disclosed several main requirements to the airlifter. Firstly, it has to take off from dirt airfields. Secondly, it has to be low-maintenance and universal. Thirdly, it can be serviced by the crew in unequipped places.

Ilyushin CEO Yuri Grudinin said at Army-2019 forum that the Ilyushin Design Bureau began to develop a prospective airborne complex of military-transport aviation. It studies the Soviet and global experience to produce the rough design.

Grudinin said the Defense Ministry would determine whether Il-106 airlifter or a completely new project will be used as the basis.

The Defense Ministry earlier said it would like to have at least 80 airlifters capable of delivering to any part of the globe 400 Armata tanks with a full round of munitions, self-propelled artillery guns, antiaircraft missiles, tactical missile launchers, multiple launch rocket systems and Sprut-SD for mobile deployment of a major force at the assigned theater of warfare, the Army Standard said.


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