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Ilyushin Il-96-500T

IL-96-500T

By early 2019 the Russians were working on the project of a new large freighter, oriented towards the primary transport of space components. The plane, which is being developed at the request of Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, will be based on the Ilyusin IL96-500, with a hybrid solution between the Airbus Beluga and the Super Guppy. Roscosmos is working in collaboration with the OAK (UAC) to develop the IL-96-500T, which will have the upper section of the fuselage widely modified and the adoption of an integral front door.

The model will be used to transport complete sections of rockets to the Vostochny space center. The choice of parameters of airborne delivery vehicles for RCT products is based on the weight and size characteristics of the elements of the space rocket complex of heavy and superheavy classes, the distance of typical routes for transporting products from manufacturers to the cosmodrome and the requirements for their vibration loading and protection against atmospheric effects during transportation.

It is assumed that the main routes for the delivery of RCT products should go between Moscow, St. Petersburg, Samara, Omsk and the Vostochny spaceport. The maximum distance on these routes does not exceed 6000 km, while with a load of 80 tons the aircraft can cover a distance of more than 4300 km. Objects of transportation can be: an emergency rescue system for a manned transport ship (PTK) weighing 4.7 tons, PTK without an emergency rescue rocket unit, dry weight 12.9 tons and a universal missile module weighing 33.1 tons 41.6 m long and a diameter of 4.1 m.

The large cargo hold is a focal point in the project. The new aircraft is supposed to serve Russian space travel. The Ilyushin Il-96-500T is supposed to transport large rocket parts and other XL equipment to the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The conception was completed in 2018 and the planning seemed to be well advanced. The construction on the Il-96-400 makes the plane cheaper. Until certification and first delivery, the experts expect five to seven years. In total, OAK planned to build 16 IL-96-500T, between 2026 and 2034, four being destined for Roscosmos, another six built for the Ministry of Defense, which must use the aircraft to transport vehicles and complete missile systems, in addition of another six destined to the commercial operation through the leasing company Ilyushin Finance Co.

The latter can be used especially in the transport of components of the CR929 wide-body commercial aircraft, developed in association with China. Although the production of IL-96 is active, with an average of one aircraft produced per year, the aircraft will possibly be developed from already built cells, similar to Boeing's strategy with the 747 Dreamlifter, which was mounted under planes that were already in service. The objective will be to streamline the project and reduce risks, in addition to taking advantage of relatively new aircraft.

"The selected width and height of the cargo compartment of the IL-96-500T will ensure the transportation of 100% of the unique indivisible cargo on the market. At the same time, the dimensions of the cargo compartment will allow the transportation of a wide range of promising cargoes," explained PJSC Il. As an example of what can be transported inside the fuselage of a new modification of the IL-96, the Ilyushin indicated the universal rocket module used in Angara missiles, the head fairing of the Angara-A5V heavy carrier, a manned spacecraft or its system emergency rescue.

Structurally, the proposed modification differs from other versions of the IL-96 with an enlarged upper part of the fuselage, where a superstructure appears, with a folding head part through which loading takes place, additional supports in the front of the aircraft and a retractable cargo ramp. In contrast to the An-124, the warhead will be tipped to the side during loading, and not be tilted up.

The An-124 excluded the possibility of transporting elements of super-heavy rocket carriers and containers with promising spacecraft. The aircraft fleet is rapidly aging, due to a number of negative factors, the cost of flight hours is growing, mass production of aircraft was completed 15 years ago, the developer and manufacturer of engines is foreign, which has terminated partnership and business relations with Russia.

For these reasons, the transportation of promising space cargo on the An-124 aircraft is problematic. Despite the outstanding carrying capacity of Ruslan, it, like other high-wing aircraft, focused on the transportation of industrial oil and energy equipment, as well as armored vehicles and other weapons systems, is poorly adapted for transporting LV stages, booster blocks and other relatively lightweight but dimensional products Rkt. The prospects of its modernization by increasing the cross section of the cargo compartment are unpromising and will require large financial and time costs.

One of the highlights of the IL-86-500T is its large volumetric capacity, superior to that of the Antonov An124, although the capacity in tons is lower. The objective is to use the new aircraft in operations that require large internal spaces, with loads with low total weight, such as rocket structures, which when not supplied are relatively light. Also striking is the nose solution, which can be tilted up to 12, as in the An-124 and C-5 Galaxy models. The advantage is to allow the shipment of certain loads without the need for a special lift.

The program has an estimated cost of 30,000 million rubles (475 million dollars), with the first flight that will occur in mid-2026, with the first deliveries from the following year. The concept, although popular is quite old, having its origin in the 1960s, when the United States entered the Space Race and the newly created NASA, began to demand transport of components with large volume and low weight.

World experience in aerospace transportation includes the Guppy series aircraft, which made 85% of all Saturn / Apollo flights, and at the end of the program were used in Space Shuttle flights. Airbus A330-600ST Beluga airplanes are used both for the transportation of elements of the A320 and A380 airliners, and for the aviation transportation of ISS modules by order of the European Space Agency. The Boeing B747-400LCF aircraft was developed as a means of competition with Airbus for the sales markets of the Boeing B787 long-range wide-body airliners.

From domestic experience AK them. Ilyushin drew attention to the modified 3M heavy bomber with the upper position of the transported cargo under the ISS Buran program. In "Ilyushin" they came to the conclusion that the upper location of the cargo may lead to damage during transportation in adverse weather conditions, such as hail. Also, the duration of the process of installing cargo on an aircraft, which amounted to more than a day, has a significant negative value, for which a bulky lifting and gantry device with a carrying capacity of 50 tons was developed.

Thus, foreign and domestic experience shows that the development of several copies of specialized carrier aircraft based on one of the existing low-winged passenger aircraft is the optimal solution for transporting heavy and superheavy class RCT products.

Experience also shows that airplanes designed to transport unique RCT cargoes in one program are often used to transport a wide range of third-party cargoes. And the transportation of aerospace goods inside the cargo compartment provides the comfortable conditions necessary for delivering a large range of high-tech products to intercontinental distances, regardless of weather conditions, which economically justifies the creation of a fleet of specialized means of aviation delivery.

IL-96-500T IL-96-500T IL-96-500T IL-96-500T IL-96-500T IL-96-500T IL-96-500T



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