Jan 9, 2015
Russia orders new Il-96 tanker aircraft
The contract is notable as it marks the first time that Russia will convert one of its civilian wide-bodied airliners into a military air-to-air refuelling tanker aircraft.
The aircraft, which are specified as being newbuilds, will supplement the Russian Air Force's existing fleet of 20 Ilyushin Il-78 'Midas' tanker aircraft.
The new aircraft will be fitted with the same UPAZ-1 wing-mounted air-to-air refuelling pods as the Il-78.
The MoD added that the Il-96-400TZ aircraft would be able to transfer in excess of 65 tons (58,967 kg) of fuel at ranges of up to 3,500 km.
The four-engine Il-96 civilian airliner first entered service with Aeroflot in 1992 and now only remains in service with the Cubana airline and the Rossiya Russian government state fleet which operates the Il-96-300PU Russian presidential aircraft.
To date only 30 Il-96s have been built since the aircraft made its first flight in 1988. With the air force's existing fleet of 20 Il-78 aircraft scheduled to be retired in the not-too-distant future, a second life as an AAR aircraft could provide a future for Il-96 production.