Russia approves production of new military freighter IL-276

Developed by Ilyushin, cargo jet plans to start operating in the Russian Air Force in 2026
Ilyushin Il-276 (UAC)

The Russian Ministry of Defense announced last week the selection of the Ilyushin IL-276 as the new medium-sized military transport aircraft. The jet cargo plane is expected to replace the old An-12 turboprops and also the An-72, manufactured by Antonov in Ukraine.

According to the Russian press, the Il-276 is expected to begin flight testing in 2023 and deliver the first units in 2026. Ilyushin intends to achieve an annual production rate of 12 units by 2029.

Plans to renew the Russian Air Force’s medium-sized freighter fleet came at the beginning of the past decade. In 2001, UAC (United Aircraft Corporation), the holding company that controls Ilyushin, entered into a partnership agreement with India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

The proposal foresaw that India would pay the costs of the project as compensation of debts with the former Soviet Union. The program started in 2009, but six years later, HAL abandoned the partnership.

Despite this, studies of the Il-214, as it was designated at the time, proceeded with the definition of four variants, air carrier for troops and cargo, air medical evacuation, aerial communication platform and air refueling.

Russia must replace the old An-12 turboprop with the new Ilyushin jet (Igor Dvurekov)

According to Ilyushin, the Il-276 will be able to carry 150 paratrooper soldiers or up to 20 tons of cargo. The range of the aircraft must be 2,000 km with maximum payload and the cruising speed, 800 km/h at 12,000 meters altitude.

The Il-276 has a classic military cargo configuration, with high wings and a T-tail, with a rear access door. The future Russian military jet is expected to be equipped with two PS-90 turbofans at first, which will be replaced by the more modern PD-14 engine.

Since Russia and Ukraine began to have a strained relationship after the invasion of Crimea, the government of President Vladimir Putin has been looking to replace Antonov aircraft in the country’s Air Force. The Il-276, in fact, is a direct competitor of the An-178, which had its production started recently.

The Ucranian An-178 military freighter (Julian Herzog)

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