The Russian Armed Forces intend to replace the An-26 and An-72 with the Il-212 light military transport aircraft equipped with turbojet engines, according to information obtained by RIA Novosti from a reliable source. In a meeting with the leadership of United Aircraft Corporation, Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu declared the intention to replace light military transport aircraft for the An-26 and An-72. Shoygu remarked that the implementation schedules for this decision must be established. As per a knowledgeable source from RIA Novosti, this requires modifications to be made to the Il-112B light military transport aircraft project.
Significant revisions will be made to the Il-112V project, which will acquire the designation Il-212. A maximum amount of onboard equipment, avionics, and fuselage will be carried over from the aircraft’s predecessor. In contrast, the aircraft will be powered by PD-8 turbojet engines instead of the TV-117S turboprop engines. The source stated that as a result, the wing and landing gear of the aircraft will undergo redesign, and new fuel and hydraulic systems will be implemented.
As with the An-72, the PD-8 turbojet engines will be positioned above the wing of the Il-212 to facilitate operation from unprepared runways and gravel airstrips, as clarified by the source. The elevated engine intakes effectively eradicate the potential hazard of imbibing ground debris and objects.
According to the source, the cargo compartment’s range, payload capacity, and dimensions are still being determined. The source said it is possible to assert with certainty that the new aircraft will possess a higher payload capacity due to its more potent engines.
The PD-8 is a Russian two-shaft turbojet engine planned to be installed on the domestically-produced passenger aircraft SSJ-New and the Be-200 amphibious aircraft.
At the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2023 in June, it was announced that modifications would be made to the Il-112V military transport aircraft project. Vice Premier Denis Manturov said that the modifications would affect the wing structure and engines at that time. A source for RIA Novosti subsequently confirmed that PD-8 turbojet engines are being considered to redesign the Il-112V.
Aviation experts say that the Russian Aerospace Forces operate more than 110 An-26 planes and about 30 An-72 planes, totalling over 140 aircraft. It was anticipated that the Armed Forces would require approximately 200 new light military transport aircraft (then Il-112B) in 2021. Hence, it is possible to approximate the present requirement for the Il-212 within the Russian Aerospace Forces at approximately 150-200 aircraft.
Compatibility with the PD-8 turbojet engines will necessitate a substantial quantity of the Il-112V. This incorporates new aerodynamics and a revised centerline, necessitating the construction of a new wing, fuselage and landing gear modifications and additional aerodynamic tunnel tests at TsAGI [Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute]. Following that, a complete cycle of flight tests will be required. Thus, despite the Il-112V laying the foundation, the new model featuring PD-8 engines might not debut for at least three years. According to military expert Alexey Leonkov, who spoke with Ria Novosti, five years is a more plausible timeframe.
Furthermore, he stated that the An-26 and An-72 aircraft, which are presently operational with Russian military transport aviation units, ought to have an adequate residual service life to support the advancement of the new aircraft. Nevertheless, components will probably have to be transferred from one aircraft to another. Belarusian assistance may be necessary, given that the Antonov Design Bureau’s initial technical support is unattainable for apparent reasons.
Leonkov said that the preliminary Il-112V endeavour had reached a state of readiness, and in light of the deficiencies that precipitated the experimental model’s demise, it warranted refinement.
Additionally, he mentioned that at that time, there would be a pair of aircraft—the jet-powered Il-212 and the turboprop Il-112V—that could replace the jet-powered An-72 and the turboprop An-26 with greater flexibility, given that these aircraft types continue to differ in terms of operating conditions and tasks executed.
The technical specifications of the Il-112V indicate that it was initially engineered for airdropping and transporting personnel, armaments, light equipment, and various other types of cargo not exceeding 5 tonnes in weight. Its primary objective was to substitute the ageing An-26 aircraft. The maximum range of the Il-112V, equipped with turboprop engines, was estimated to be around 1,200 kilometres at cruising speed. It could carry 470 kilometres at a time.
The inaugural takeoff of the Il-112V prototype occurred at the Voronezh Aircraft Production Association (VASO) airport on March 30, 2019. The initial aircraft prototype encountered a fatal accident in the Moscow vicinity in August 2012, killing the entire test pilot crew. At that moment, an engine fire was identified as the preliminary cause, and work was halted on developing new aircraft prototypes.