WASHINGTON DC – US magazine The National Interest in a recent article described the Russian transport aircraft Il-76 as the most powerful of Russian Air Force aircraft.
According to the media, the Russian army ranks second in the world in terms of air mobility, being surpassed only by the United States.
One of the main factors driving the creation of a large air transport fleet is the Airborne Forces in Russia.
The Il-76, considered the Russian Armed Forces’ main transport aircraft, is capable of carrying three airborne infantry BMD armored vehicles – enough to equip an Airborne Forces platoon, the publication says. Without the crew, it can carry four vehicles of this type.
In addition, the aircraft is equipped with 23mm cannons to defend against enemy fighters.
Modernizing and expanding fleet
The Russian Army uses rail to transport heavy machinery, but another plane, the An-124 (Antonov), can also do that, the article says.
Already US transport aircraft are capable of carrying only personnel and light armored vehicles, the article adds.
The author notes that Russia has ceased to cooperate with manufacturer Antonov, which is now a fully Ukrainian company, and therefore, the new supplier must be Ilyushin, claims the author Charlie Gao.
The future of the Russian transport fleet seems to be heading in the same direction, giving Russia great air transport capacity and flexibility. To maintain its status as the second largest army in terms of air mobility, Russia continues to seek to modernize and expand its fleet, summarizes the author.
According to aviation expert Viktor Pryadka, the Il-76 is a good aircraft, but over time the need has come to modernize it so that the military is more mobile.
“With the aging of the aircraft park and the withdrawal of previous generation An-12 [military transport aircraft], the need has arisen for our armed forces to be more mobile, to be able to receive cargo whenever necessary. The army must be mobile and able in a few hours to carry the necessary equipment and personnel wherever needed, if there is a potential threat,” Pryadka explained.
In particular, the Il-76 received new engines with increased thrust, allowing it to increase its load capacity, reduce fuel consumption and improve its tactical and technical characteristics, the expert said.
According to him, with the new engine the plane can remain in service for several decades more.
“The plane meets current needs and changing it will cost less than creating a new plane from scratch,” said Pryadka.
In August 2013, the Russian Ministry of Defense and aircraft producer Ilyushin signed an agreement for the global modernization of the Il-76MD military transport aircraft and Il-78M refueling aircraft.