Russia’s advanced aerial refueling tanker Ilyushin Il-78M-90A performed its maiden flight on Thursday, local media reports.
"Today, on January 25, the flight model of the Il-78M-90A perspective aerial refueling plane performed its first flight. The plane was piloted by Ilyushin Chief Pilot, Hero of Russia, Merited Test Pilot of Russia Nikolai Kuimov," the Ilyushin Aircraft Company told TASS.
Vice-President of the United Aircraft Corporation and CEO of the Ilyushin Aircraft Company Alexei Rogozin said that some foreign partners were showing interest in the latest aerial refueling tanker.
"Today the upgraded Il-78M-90A aerial tanker performed its first flight, which lasted 35 minutes. The new plane differs from its predecessor by its modified wing, new engines and the control system, and also has a large lifting capacity and a big volume of fuel carried aboard. The plane has been developed for Russia’s Aerospace Force but some of our foreign partners are also showing interest in the tanker," Rogozin said.
Russia’s improved aerial refueler modification is derived from the latest Il-76MD-90A military transport plane while its designing, the development of design documentation and its production were carried out using modern digital technologies.
The perspective aerial refueling plane boasts an increased flight range thanks to its four PS-90A-76 new-generation engines and can take a larger amount of fuel on its board for aircraft refueling compared to previous models. These engines consume 12-14% less fuel than D-30KP motors mounted on earlier modifications of aerial fueling tankers.
"The latest Il-78M-90A aerial refueling tanker has retained its capability as a military transport plane. Re-equipping won’t require a large volume of work and can be carried in aerodrome conditions. If necessary, fire-fighting equipment can be mounted on it," the company added.