Russia flies refuelling tanker for the first time

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 Russian refuelling tanker IL-78М-90А

The Russian Air Force has flown the prototype of its IL-78М-90А aerial refueling tanker for the first time.

The maiden flight took place at the manufacturing facility of Aviastar-SP on January 25 in Ulyanovsk, western Russia, and lasted 35 minutes. The aircraft was piloted by chief pilot Nikolai Dmitrievich Kuimov.

This aircraft is the first tanker to be developed in Russia since the end of the Soviet era and was designed by the Ilyushin Aviation Complex.

The new tanker is based on the military transport aircraft IL-76М-90А and is fitted with four engines of the new generation ПС-90А-76. These engines are more efficient than the engines used by previous aircraft based on the IL-76M-90А, reducing fuel consumption by up to 14% and increasing range.

The IL-78M-90A also features modernized control and navigation systems and a digital glass cockpit to increase flight safety. It can also still be utilized as a military and transport aircraft by re-equipping at an air base.

The Il-78М-90А will become the main tanker for the Russian Air Force and is able to refuel two front line aviation aircraft simultaneously. On the ground it can fill up to four aircraft simultaneously.

The final assembly of the tanker will be conducted at the Aviastar-SP Ulyanovsk plant.

January 30, 2018

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before eventually becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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