The so-called transport division of the United Aircraft Corporation is now the busiest engineering cluster, if not in the entire Russian industry, then in aviation for sure. The lead developer of the direction was rightly chosen "Aviation complex named after S. V. Ilyushin ", which until April 2019 was headed by Dmitry Rogozin's son Alexey. Now in his place is Yuri Grudinin, who previously headed the TANKT named after Georgy Beriev and is directly related to aviation construction. At the moment, Ilyushin residents are working on six projects at once. This is the well-known program for further deep modernization of the old Il-76, the reincarnation of the super-heavy An-124, the project of the light "transport" Il-112V, as well as two passenger cars - the small Il-114 and the giant Il-96-400M. Today we will talk about the Il-276 medium-class military transport vehicle, which has every chance of becoming a production vehicle in the next ten years. By 2030, the well-deserved old men An-12 (according to NATO classification "Novichok") will be withdrawn from the Military Space Forces, the Il-276 will be called to replace them. In addition, in the long term, the novelty will replace the An-72 Cheburashka in the Russian Aerospace Forces, as well as the An-32 and Lockheed C-130 Hercules from foreign partners, primarily in India. At least that was the plan five years ago.
The history of the 276th machine begins in the 80s, when the idea of replacing the aging An-12 with a new, more spacious machine was born in the Soviet Union. But in those days it was not possible to develop a project that would surpass Antonov's turboprop machine. We returned to the project at the turn of the century, when an analysis of the world market showed the need for transport aircraft capable of taking on board up to 20 tons and transferring cargo over a distance of about 3000 km. In those days, Russia was acutely short of material resources for the implementation of such a complex project and it was decided to attract a partner. India, our old, but not the most reliable, friendly country, as history has shown, expressed an interest in the development. Initially, the aircraft had as many as four names - first SVTS (medium military transport aircraft), later MTA (Medium or Multirole Transport Aircraft), MTS (Multipurpose transport aircraft) and Il-214 (intra-plant name).
The first documents regulating relations between India and Russia in the aircraft development project appeared in the summer of 2001 and provided for two versions: cargo and passenger for 100 people. The Ilyushin Design Bureau participated in the program from the Russian Federation, and HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) represented India. India's interests in this project are primarily due to the acquisition of experience in the design of such complex aircraft. In the future, our partners planned to either independently develop a similar next-generation aircraft, or carry out a deep modernization of the Il-214. Be that as it may, the partners agreed to equally invest in the project and not have any secrets from each other. This was beneficial for Russia: the Il-214 did not contain any technologies critical for the country's defense, so they willingly shared with the Indians and taught them how to design.
Interestingly, the scheme of payment for its share in the project by Russia was not easy. In the early stages, financing was actually carried out by India at the expense of its national debt to our country. Initially, the cost of the entire development, testing and adoption cycle was estimated at $ 300 million in prices of the early 2000s. As noted in the publication "Aerospace Review", the cost of each produced aircraft was supposed to be from 15 to 17 million. The plans were grandiose: if everything worked out then we would have been flying passenger versions of the IL-214 for eight years, and the Aerospace Forces operated at least five dozen machines. But, unfortunately, bureaucratic delays have seriously slowed down the development process and, which is very important, funding from the Indian side. In fact, they were not resolved until 2007, when they created the Russian-Indian company MTLA (Multirole Transport Aircraft Limiterd) with headquarters in Delhi. And again, the partners began to dream of a bright future: to assemble at least 205 aircraft, of which 95 for Russia, 45 for India, and 60 aircraft for all interested parties. Moreover, the plans were to squeeze the American C-130Js on the world market. Within a short time, the project budget, together with the purchase price of the Il-214, doubled, and the first flight was immediately postponed for 7 years until 2017. Now, if this time everything would have burned out, we with you already in the current 2019 could happily observe the serial production of new products at the Ulyanovsk Aviastar, and the Indians in the city of Kanpur at the facilities of HAL. But at the end of 2015, the Il-214, which never took off, ordered to live long - the Indians left the project without giving any reason.
IL-214 becomes IL-276
“We took a break to adjust the program and clarify mutual conditions”, “The Indian side is showing caution” - the officials of the project responded with such diplomatic turns in early 2016. At the same time, even then, it seems, everything was clear to everyone: the developers unequivocally nodded towards the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation as the only possible savior of the aircraft that was so needed by the army. So it is not known until the end why India froze all relations with the Ilyushin machine. There were versions of US pressure in lobbying for the purchase of aircraft of the C-130 series by the Indians. There are also suggestions that India simply felt sorry for the money for further development. As a result, in 2017, the future aircraft was renamed Il-276, getting rid of the Indian specifics in the design. What we are talking about is not said, but it can be assumed that the engineers pushed aside the features of technical interface with the airfield infrastructure of the Indian Air Force, and also relaxed the requirements for work in high-altitude conditions. Back in 2014, a couple of years before the rupture, the design headquarters of the Ilyushin Design Bureau was working with the Ministry of Defense on a variant of the independent development of the project. As they looked into the water …
What are the Russian Aerospace Forces waiting for with the adoption of the Il-276? It will be a classic twin-engine high-wing aircraft, in cross-section completely repeating the IL-76 cargo compartment (only shorter). The future car occupies a niche between the light Il-112 and a series of heavy old Il-76s. The functionality of the aircraft allows you to transform the cargo compartment into a two-deck version and take on board 150 equipped soldiers at once (in the usual single-deck version - no more than 70). Transport capabilities are limited to 20 tons, but they allow you to take on board standard sea and aviation containers - this is important for civilian use. The aircraft will receive typical army capabilities to drop equipment and cargo both with and without parachutes from low altitudes. Also in development on the basis of the Il-276 is a flying tanker, a communication point and a hospital. And, of course, no one refuses a purely passenger version with a hundred seats. In general, an average transport aircraft is being developed simultaneously both for the standards of the Russian Aerospace Forces and for the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization. With the transition to the name Il-276, the appearance of the machine has seriously changed. Firstly, the wingspan decreased by 4 meters (up to 35.5 meters). Secondly, the aircraft became shorter and at the same time got heavier up to 72 tons of take-off weight. Thirdly, the design of the aircraft's keel has changed - now its appearance refers us to the older brother of the Il-76. The serious attitude of the developers is confirmed by the allocation of 35 million.rubles for re-profiling the Ulyanovsk production for the features of the new machine. And already this year, the first simulators for future pilots of the 276th aircraft will appear.
The real optimism for the early development of the IL-276 is inspired by the situation with the engines. At the beginning of the history of the aircraft, it was planned to install the Perm PS-9 with a thrust exceeding 9 tons. Already at the initial stages of development, it was decided that the high reliability of the engine would be determined not by frequent, high-quality and timely maintenance, but by the features of the design itself. But it was not possible to create the PS-9, so the promising machine had to be adapted for the PS-90A-76 and PD-14. The powerful PS-90A-76 with a thrust of 16 tons will become the engine of the first stage, while the PD-14 is being refined. In many ways, it was the forced transition to PS-90A-76 that caused the increase in take-off weight from the initial 68 tons to 72 - the engine is powerful and gluttonous.
The history of the IL-276 from all points of view should have its continuation. In 8-9 years, the Aerospace Forces will remain with a fleet of transport aircraft, a considerable share (about 140 aircraft) of which will be at the limit of their resource, not to mention the extreme obsolescence. And if the 276th aircraft is not ready by these dates, then we will have a direct road to the world aviation market. Only not in the role of sellers …