The Ilyushin Il-76 is one of the most versatile aircraft ever created in Russia. Developed in the late 1960s as a replacement for the An-12 turboprops, the four-engine jet was much like the USAF’s C-141, an airlifter that operated until 2006.
Although Antonov was the most successful design bureau in developing military transport aircraft, Ilyushin had enormous success with the Il-76, which was eventually produced on a large scale and exported to dozens of countries, including China, where it was assembled. under license.
To date, the Il-76 has proven to be a lasting project, even 50 years after its maiden flight on March 25, 1971.
UAC, the state-owned company that controls Russia’s biggest aviation manufacturers, revealed this week that the first Il-76MD-90A has been completed on Aviastar-SP’s new assembly line in Ulyanovsk.
The most modern facilities will allow for a production rate of 12 planes per year, explained UAC. “In contrast to the technology used previously, the new production line reduces the labor intensity in the assembly of the aircraft,” said the company’s statement.
“The line consists of ten productions to join the fuselage, wing, tail assembly, and plant installation stations and aircraft systems. It is equipped with a laser positioning system of the units, which guarantees high precision of union of all the elements of the aircraft.”
The Il-76MD-90A is the latest variant of the military freighter, which features high-bypass PS-90A turbofans that power commercial jets like the Il-96-300 and Tu-204.
More economical, it allowed the Il-76 to offer greater autonomy and load capacity, up to 60 tons. The aircraft also received new avionics and six multifunction cockpit screens.
The program was announced in 2010 with the completion of the first plane in 2014. The Russian Air Force received the first Il-76MD-90A in 2019 and a dozen are believed to have been completed since then.