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Ilyushin Il-102

In the summer of 1991, the public for the first time saw the experimental pilot aircraft Il-102 ("OES"). The attack aircraft was very similar to the IL-40, launched in the mid-1950s, but never entered into serial production. The flight tests of the IL-40 were successfully completed in January 1955, and its introduction into production at the Rostov Aviation Plant began. However, in 1956, all work was discontinued due to the decision to abolish attack aircraft. Five almost completed aircraft of the experimental series in the fall of 1956 were dismantled for metal.

At the end of the 1960s, in the air publications, the seemingly forgotten word attack aircraft flashed again. The experience of the operation and combat use of fighter-bombers showed that they are not able to replace armored flying tanks over the battlefield. Apparently, the first in the USSR began to develop a jet attack aircraft in the OKB P.O.Sukhogo. Following him, employees of OKB S.V.Ilyushin joined the unofficial competition to create a battlefield aircraft.

The Ilyushin Design Bureau returned to the idea of an armored attack aircraft in the late 1960s, when, in accordance with the requirements of the Air Force, based on the experience of Vietnam and the Middle East conflicts, which were again interested in attack aircraft, the project of the IL-42 aircraft, which is a deep modernization of the IL-40, was proposed. The attack aircraft was supposed to be equipped with two AM-5F turbojet engines (2x3250 kgf). Its normal take-off weight was 16,480 kg, maximum take-off weight was 17,470 kg, empty weight was 12,190 kg, fuel was 4,170 kg, armor was 700 kg, and maximum bomb load was 1,400 kg. According to calculations, the attack aircraft was to develop a speed of 997 km / h, have a practical ceiling of 11,600 m and a practical range of 1,115 km.

Several OKB participated in the stormtrooper project competition held in June 1969. Yakovleva, who presented the Yak-25LSh project, A.I. Mikoyan (MiG-21LSH) and P.O.Sukhoi (T8). As a result, the T8 and MiG-21LSh "passed" the competition, and it was decided to stop work on the Yak-25LSh and Il-42.Sukhoi began developing the T8 in 1969 , making its first flight as the Su-25 six years later. However, the development of the "Ilyushin" two-seat attack aircraft was still continued under the leadership of G.V. Novozhilova on the initiative. Compared to the IL-42, the new aircraft, designated IL-102, had a modified shape of the nose of the fuselage with improved forward-down visibility, new, more powerful engines, and significantly stronger weapons.

The main difference between the IL-102 and the Su-25 was the second cabin for the gunner. Apparently, this circumstance played the most negative role in the fate of the car. The layout of the IL-102 did not differ from the IL-40, but it was a completely new machine, so to speak, in the "retro" style. For the thirty years lying between them, too much has changed in the aircraft industry. More economical turbojet engines, new structural materials and technological processes appeared. And there’s no need to talk about equipment. There was not only a decrease in its weight, but also an expansion of the tasks to be solved. Updated crew rescue equipment. The universal ejection seats K-36L for the pilot and K-36L-102 for the air gunner now reliably save in the entire range of speeds and altitudes, as well as during parking.

Upon a quick inspection of the IL-102, you can find that the design of the main landing gear, which is retracted into the fairings under the wing, has changed, turning against the stream. This freed up space for additional external weapon mounts. The new aerodynamic layout of the wing allowed to abandon ridges on its surface. Without going into the details of the technical description, we note that only the use of the RD-33I turbojet engine with a 60% increase in thrust led to an increase in take-off weight to 22,000 kg and a combat load to 7200 kg.

The increase in size and weight of the aircraft required a departure from the traditional "Ilyushin" reservation scheme: the designers refused a single armored hull, which includes the main vital parts of the aircraft (as was done on the IL-2, IL-10 and IL-40). It was decided to protect the cockpit with armor, as well as, in part, engines and the fuel supply system. Fuel tanks deprived of reservation, concentrating them in the central part of the fuselage. Front and rear, they were screened by crew cabins and a defensive rifle installation, from the sides - engines, and from below - a gun. The combat survivability of the aircraft was enhanced through the use of sponge tank aggregate.

The IL-102, like the former Soviet "classic" attack aircraft, received a stern defensive cannon mount. It was assumed that the use of infrared traps and active interference, in combination with the high maneuverability of the attack aircraft, as well as a pair of eyes of an air gunner, who carefully watches the rear hemisphere and timely alerts the pilot about the threat, will reduce the effectiveness of enemy missiles. As a result, the enemy fighter will be forced to use cannon weapons and will himself fall under the fire of the quick-fire GSh-23L. The “offensive” cannon armament, as on the Il-40, was decided to be movable: the 30-mm gun could be installed in two positions - horizontal for firing forward, and at an angle to the horizontal.

Work on the IL-102 program was rather sluggish: the lack of funds and the "semi-legal" status of the aircraft affected it. The leadership of the Ministry of Defense opposed the Ilyushin attack aircraft, considering its creation an excessive dispersal of forces in the presence of a much more "advanced" T8 (Su-25) program. However, by the beginning of 1982, the construction of the prototype IL-102 was still completed. On January 20, the Air Force Commander-in-Chief P.S. Kutakhov, in general, supported the work on this aircraft. Favored the IL-102 and the Minister of Aviation Industry I.S. Silaev. However, the position of the Defense Ministry remained negative. Moreover, Minister of Defense D.F. Ustinov categorically forbade G.V. Novozhilov "engage in amateur activity". But OKB still continued to work on the plane. For "conspiracy" it was given the nonspecific name OES-1 (experimental pilot aircraft-1).

It was decided to conduct flight tests in the most "partisan" places - in Belarus. The first flight of the IL-102 took place on September 25, 1982. The aircraft was piloted by the chief pilot of the Design Bureau, Honored Test Pilot S. G. Bliznyuk. In 1982-1984. A total of 250 flights were completed, during which no damage or serious failure of the on-board systems occurred. The attack aircraft was highly manoeuvrable, the minimum turn radius was only 400m.

In 1984, the plane flew to the airfield LII MAP (Zhukovsky), where it was put in conservation in the hangar OKB im. Ilyushin. By that time, a full-scale serial production of Su-25 attack aircraft had already been launched, over which the Il-102 did not have any serious advantages, except for the presence of very controversial tactically defensive small arms. In 1986, they again tried to “reanimate” the program, but by that time the domestic political situation in the country had already changed, and a course was taken to reduce funding for the defense industry. In addition, a fundamental decision was made on the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. Under these conditions, the IL-102 finally lost all prospects. His "farewell bow" was the 1992 Moscow Air Show.

Relative to the Su-25 the IL-102 had the following advantages - a large 1.5 times max combat load, a slightly greater speed, a greater radius of action. It is not inferior in terms of maneuverability at norms to takeoff weight, its engines are more powerful, and the wing load is less. Before the A-10 - a much greater speed, much greater thrust-weight ratio, with a comparable wing load and range, hence much better VPH and maneuverability. In addition, initially the Su-25 and A-10 were developed as single seat aircraft . But modern optoelectronic systems require an operator, 2 crew members, who had been on the IL-102 from the very beginning. 2-seater versions of the Su-25 and A-10 naturally have the worst TTD compared to the base ones.



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