Il-96-400TZ Aerial Tanker
Voronezh aircraft manufacturers will begin work on building for the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation on the basis of two tankers Il-96-400T in 2015. This was told to Tass 28 January 2014 by Voronezh Aircraft Company (VASO) Alexander Anokhin. According to him, will do a lot of work, but the company "on the basis of IL-96 to perform more serious design improvements, such as those related to the restructuring of the passenger cargo type."
"It is expected that the construction of the aircraft will be completed in 2018, and there is every reason to believe that we can handle the task," - said Anokhin. As reported previously reporters during the competition "Aviadarts 2014" Commander of the Russian Air Force Viktor Bondar, the military is considered wide-IL-96 as a tanker and military transport aircraft. According to him, "this is a huge ship, and it is possible to move huge loads."
In 2015, the United Aircraft Manufacturing Company developed an Il-96-400TZ aerial refueling machine based on the Il-96 large wide-body aircraft. Aircraft had to be refittedtankers from previously released Il-96-400T cargo aircraft with registration numbers RA-96101 (production number 97693201001, first flight in 1997 as Il-96T with PW2337 engines, in 2004-2007 was converted to engines PS-90A1) and RA-96103 (serial number 97693201003, first flight in 2009). Both aircraft flew from Polet Airlines from 2009 to mid-2013, after which their owner, represented by the leasing company Ilyushin Finance (IFC), for a long time attempted to determine their future fate.
It also recommended that the Russian Ministry of Defense purchase the aircraft in bulk to replace the previously developed first generation of aerial tanker Il-78. Taking into account the experience of operations in Syria, Russia’s upcoming Il-96-400TZ flying tanker will also be able to haul cargoes and passengers, Ilyushin’s Deputy Chief Designer Olga Kruglyakova said in an interview with United Aircraft Corporation’s journal Horizon 16 January 2017. “President Putin ordered us to continue our work on an aerial refueling tanker based on the Ilyushin Il-96 jumbo,” Kruglyakova said.
She added that the military also wants the plane to be able to move around cargo and passengers. The technical project had been adjusted. The initial project meant the creation of only a tanker, but now it is a question of developing a convertible universal aircraft, which, if necessary, can be easily converted into a cargo-passenger. For this purpose, it was intended to place fuel tanks on the lower deck, on the upper deck, behind the crew cabin, there are seats for passengers, and behind them - a place for containers.
“The initial test flights we had with fighter planes showed that the Il-96-400TZ is fully compatible with small aircraft. Just how compatible it is with bigger ones we’ll see during state trials,” Ilyushin’s Chief Designer Nikolai Talikov said. The Il-96-400TZ will be equipped with the Zvezda UPAZ-1 aerial refueling system, which has been previously proven on the Il-78 tanker flown by the Russian Air Force. If the flying tankers built in Voronezh pass the tests, the plant will be given orders for an additional 30 such planes.
In April 2017 the defense ministry dropped plans to buy several Ilyushin Il-96-400TZ air tankers after the industry failed to offer a cost-effective conversion of some aircraft that were previously built as Il-96-400T commercial freighters.
Meantime, UAC’s Aviastar plant in Ulyanovsk had completed the first Ilyushin Il-78M-90A air tanker that is expected to commence flight trials shortly, several months behind schedule. The Il-96-400TZ conversions into “strategic air tankers” would have transferred more than 65 tons of fuel at a distance of 3,500 km. For the Il-78M is those numbers would be 40 tons at 3,000 km.
The Russian Ministry of Defence announced in 2018 that it had canceled the purchase contract for the first two Il-96-400TZ aerial tankers, thus ending the R&D project of the aircraft. According to the newspaper "Izvestia" article Eugene Devyatyarova, Alexey Kruglov and Alexander Ramm "Tankers did not take off. The Defense Ministry rejected the idea to turn the cargo Il-96-400T into flying tankers," the Russian Defense Ministry has decided to abandon the creation of a "global" tanker IL-96-400TZ. The contract with the United Aircraft Building Corporation (UAC) for the supply of two sides was terminated. It was one of the most ambitious projects of the military department.
The plane was supposed to refuel Russian combat aircraft around the world, as well as carry cargo and passengers. The base was supposed to use IL-96-400 in the transport version. Two such cars remained from the ruined airline Polet. "Ilyushin" offered them a quick modification, but the military insisted on conducting development work (R & D) and a full cycle of flight tests.
Their final price - taking into account the OCD cycle, flight tests and the cost of extending the resource - turned out to be much higher than initially discussed. At the same time, the Ministry of Defense for this money would not have solved the task of reaching the serial supply of such aircraft. According to the interlocutors of the publication, Ilyushin proposed to convert two Il-96-400T wide-body cargo planes into Il-96-400TZ fuel tankers in an accelerated mode — in a year or two without a full OCD cycle. However, the Ministry of Defense did not agree with this proposal. The military insisted on finalizing the aircraft, including the installation of electronic warfare systems, ensuring the possibility of an emergency escape from the aircraft crew, and also on the fulfillment of other specific requirements. But this would have required 4–5 years - meanwhile, the IL-96-400T will fully develop the remainder of the flight resource.
The Ministry of Defense confirmed the fact of termination of the contract for the supply of two Il-96-400TZ, but refused to comment further.
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