Ilyushin, Russia’s military transport aircraft design authority, has announced the first serial production Il-76MD-90 aircraft (c/n 0102) used for testing and certification trials has commenced a second phase of joint testing and evaluation by Ilyushin and the Russian Air Force.
The flight test programme will evaluate an integrated self-protection suite, integrated communication suite and an electro-optical turret (used for observing a drop zone during low-level para-drops, both day and night).
Test flights are being flown from the Ulyanovsk-Vostochny airfield near the Aviastart-SP manufacturing plant.
Once the test and evaluation effort is completed, the first two Il-76MD- 90As delivered to the Russian Air Force will be retrofitted with the new mission systems; all new aircraft built at Aviastart-SP will be configured with the systems at the time of delivery. One noteworthy fact about the Il-76MD- 90A is the lack of the tail gun turret originally installed on the Il-76MD. The IL-76MD-90A is powered by four PS-90A-76 turbofan bypass engines each rated at 142kN (31,968lb) of thrust.
Deliveries of new Il-96MD-90As in the definitive production configuration are due to start this year, with just three aircraft going to the Russian Air Force military transport aviation branch. Ilyushin is set to increase production to a maximum of 12 aircraft per year by 2021.
The first prototype IL-76MD-90 made its maiden flight at at Aviastar’s Ulyanovsk plant in March 2013 and the first serial production aircraft was rolled out at the plant on June 16, 2014
On December 29, 2016, Ilyushin announced it had completed company testing of the first upgraded Il-76MD-M for the Russian Air Force after 17 test flights and 110 flight hours. The aircraft will enter joint testing between Ilyushin and the air force in 2017.
New systems fitted on the Il-76MD-M are a PNPK-3 Kupol-3 navigation suite (as used on the Il-76MD-90A), selfprotection and communications suites, and an electro-optical turret.
Structural reinforcements on the fuselage structure are intended to provide a minimum 15-year life extension.
Three production-standard Il-76MD-Ms were ordered by the Russian MoD in October 2016, and all should be delivered by the end of 2018.