The Ilyushin Design Bureau has reported progress with Indian defense officials on agreeing an upgrade and life extension for that country’s Il-76/78 fleet. It also has offered India the upgraded Il-78MD-90A aerial tanker, and licensed production of the Ilyushin Il-114-300 regional turboprop for both civil and military missions.
At the recent Aero India show, the Indian defense ministry made public its “decision in principle” made earlier this year for a lifetime extension (up to 40 years) and a modernization of the 16 Il-76MD airlifters and eight Il-78MKI aerial tankers already in Indian Air Force (IAF) service. A similar decision is expected soon for the five Il-38SD anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft serving with the Indian Navy.
The Il-114 license offer was made during the show. Production of the type is being restarted at the new location of Lukhovitsy, south of Moscow. According to Russian negotiators, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd has signaled an intent to produce both civilian and military versions of the Il-114 under the Make in India program. The two sides are discussing ways HAL and other Indian companies can supply parts and components to Russia for completion of newly made Il-114s. The issue is expected to be discussed in detail during the next meeting of the inter-government commission on military-technical cooperation.
The Il-114-300 is viewed as a platform for development of a next-generation ASW aircraft to replace the Il-38 whose production discontinued in 1972. The Indian navy has been operating the Il-38SD version since 2010, when its first aircraft underwent a lifetime-extension and modernization program in Russia. But there were extensive delays and performance shortcomings, although these issues have since been resolved. The navy’s five remaining Il-38s are soon due for maintenance, during which they can receive upgrades similar to those now being made to the Russian navy’s Il-38Ns, with the more advanced Novella P-38 sensor suite.
Meantime, following India’s ditching of earlier plans to purchase the Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport, the Russian proposal based on the re-engined version of the Il-76 airlifter is again under consideration in New Delhi. The first Il-78MD-90A tanker powered by four Aviadvigatel/Perm Motors PS-90A76 turbofans is taking shape at Ulyanovsk-SP factory. In addition to the engines, it differs from the IAF’s current Il-78MKIs in having UPAZ aerial refueling apparatus redesigned for high fuel transfer rates.
The IAF already uses the new PS-90 turbofans, since they are installed on the three A-50EI versions of the Il-76 that were delivered to India by Beriev for the Airborne Early Warning and Cobtrol (AEW&C) mission. These have been demonstrating satisfactory readiness, which suggests that the IAF Il-76 upgrade will also include replacement of the existing D-30KP engines with the PS-90. Ilyushin is also hoping to sell some new-build Il-76MD-90As to the IAF.
At Aero India, Indian officials confirmed their intention to continue buying the A50EI AEW&C aircraft beyond the two additional ones that are now being completed in Russia at Taganrog. The A-50EI houses an Israeli radar system, the IAI/Elta EL/W-2090 Phalcon.