OJSC «Il» began upgrading the first Il-78 tanker of the Russian Airspace Forces (RAF) up to IL-78-2 versionThe upgrading covers flight and navigation, radio communication, lighting, domestic, and defense equipment. Legacy (discontinued) equipment will be replaced by the modern one, the specified lifetime of the aircraft will be extended up to 40 years.
The upgrading project is designed by OJSC «Il» in accordance with a request for proposal approved by the Air Force of the Russian Federation in 2011 in order to upgrade the existing fleet of Il-78 and Il-78M aircraft-tankers, as well as Il 76MD military transport aircraft.
JSC «Myasishchev Design Bureau” specialists were engaged in development of the design documentation.
The parts and components interchangeable with promising Il-76MD-90A military transport and Il-78M-90A tanker aircraft are partially used in the upgrading.
The works on a similar upgrading of the first military transport aircraft have been completed. The upgraded Il-76MD-M is successfully passing flight tests.
On May 11, 2016, the first IL-78 aircraft of EMERCOM of Russia arrived at the production site of OJSC «Il» in Zhukovsky city for upgrading. It is expected that conversion of the aircraft and its preparation to ground and flight tests shall be completed in the 1st quarter of 2017.
Il-78 design is based on Il-76MD heavy military transport aircraft and its purpose is in-flight day-and night refueling of long-range and tactical aviation aircraft in clear weather conditions to increase their range. IL-78 can be used to transport fuel to maneuver airfields and aircraft refueling on the ground.
The cargo compartment accommodates two additional fuel tanks. Using three refueling pods (UPAZ) installed under the wings and fuselage tail section, the fuel can be supplied both from fuselage tanks and from the wing box tanks.
If necessary, the in-service tanker aircraft can be converted into a transport one for the transportation of personnel, equipment and cargo, transfer of patients.