The first prototype of the Il-76MD-M modernized military transport aircraft has made its first flight as part of state tests.
Manufacturer Ilyushin announced that the flight took place near Moscow and lasted over six hours. This flight, part of the ongoing state tests, is over a year after the aircraft completed its maiden flight as part of manufacturer testing.
Director General Alexey Rogozin, who was appointed last month, said, “The beginning stage of state joint tests – a very important event for us. Modernization of aircraft Il-76MD system, can extend their service and improve combat effectiveness, to prepare for a massive shift to the new Il-76MD-90A.”
Russian officials have previously suggested the Il-76MD-M is an ‘intermediate’ between the Il-76MD and the modernized Il-76MD-90A, which is also currently under development.
A first contract to upgrade Il-76MDs into the Il-76MD-M standard has already been signed. Russia anticipates receiving the first two Il-76MD-M transports next year.
Ilyusin has previously noted some of the details of the Il-76MD-M modernization. The firm noted, “Modernization included flight navigation, radio communication, light, utility and defensive equipment. Outdated (out of production) equipment was replaced with modern items. Assigned service time of the aircraft was extended from 30 to 40 years.”
As part of development of the Il-76MD-90A, meanwhile, Russia anticipates receiving three of the aircraft in 2017, as part of ongoing testing. Testing is expected to be finished next year, with serial production thereafter. Moscow initially expected to order nearly 40 Il-76MD-90As as part of a first batch, but cost increases may cause the order to be reduced.