An-124 Program

KZ coverage of yesterday’s MOD leadership videoconference provided a little window into what has apparently become the modest modernization program for Russia’s An-124 Ruslan heavy transport aircraft.

Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu proposed discussion about the modernization and repair of the An-124, saying:

In conditions where the demand for transport of super-heavy and large diameter loads in the Armed Forces is growing, resolution of this problem has taken on special importance. In the conference, we will hear proposals of the directors of Aviation Complex named for S. V. Ilyushin and the Ural Civil Aviation Plant [UZGA] regarding completion of the contract for modernization, restoration, and life extension of two An-124 aircraft, but also for the capital repair and modernization of 12 D-18T aircraft engines.

So that’s modernization of two aircraft and 12 engines (three aircraft?). Shoygu confirmed what was reported for VPK in 2018 by one-time officer and KZ journalist Oleg Falichev.

Falichev called (perhaps shilled?) for work on 12 D-18T engines. He claimed Russia’s An-124s received only two percent of funding required for their maintenance, and indicated UZGA had not “mastered” repair of the D-18T, a Soviet-era product made on the territory of Ukraine.

Recall we see various numbers for An-124s in VTA’s inventory, perhaps four or nine operational aircraft with maybe more than 20 airframes in various states of repair (or disrepair).

It’s been clear for a while that Moscow won’t try to recreate production of An-124s; modernization is supposed to allow them to serve until the 2040s when PAK TA might enter the force.

Shoygu could be right. The demand for super-heavy airlift might be growing, especially given the current state of world disorder and Moscow’s increased activism abroad. This could put a premium on the ability to deliver large amounts of cargo rapidly to great distances.

Then again, if this is the extent of the An-124 modernization program, it doesn’t sound like a high priority. It sounds like a band aid. Always resourceful, the Kremlin will find simpler ways to get the job done.

2 responses to “An-124 Program

  1. Russia has now 13 An-124-100 in the active inventory
    With the available photos on the net, at least 7 have been seen in operation in last 12 months. Two are passing planned maintenance in Ulyanovsk, probably after the big activity in Siria operation. The rest is available despite the use is low.
    If you uses eac airplane half of the flying hours, you will have the airplanes available double of years, is so simply
    How much is the readiness of Galaxy in ISAF?? (About F-35 better not talk)

    8 out of 13 are working with the dual purpose 224º Squadron simply because there are no need in the Russian Air Force to have more heavy airplanes
    In adition to that 13 airplanes other 5 AN-22 are in service,but only are necesary a few times per year to transport heavy loads

    The reason to update more airplanes to An-124-100 standard is the need to replace An-22 and get 16 to 18 An-124 for a complete regiment in service

    Russia has 9 An-124 in reserve in Sescha airbase , and other more is being upgraded to An-124-100 in Ulyanovsk.

    Russia does not need intercontinental heavy lifter because is not going to invade any banana republic, by diference with the imperial policy of US

    Rusia has more than 130 Il-76MD with a paiload of 47 t. and optimized for the operation pf airborne forces. The replacement has 62t of payload and better range. More than enough for Russian needs

    Soviet Union had other needs and other size.
    An-124 was designed for transport a brigade of MBT , Russia does not need that. USSR had about 50 An-124, Russia only need 20 and only a limited number of times every year.

    A good upgrade to An-124-100M will be enough for keep An-124 in operation until 50 years of service or more

  2. A little video of An-124 landing in Tver….

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