MOSCOW, January 13. /TASS/. Tests of Russia’s advanced Ilyushin II-78M-90A tanker aircraft may be completed by late 2018 or early 2019, the Ilyushin Bureau’s Chief Designer Nikolai Talikov said in an interview with TASS on Saturday.
"These tests continue parallel with Il-76MD-90A, as those aircraft add to each other. All the completed tests would be a part of the tests for the new tanker aircraft, and thus the test term for the 78 model would be much shorter than for Il-76-MD-90A," he said. "I believe, the tests would be completed by end of this year (2018) - early next year (2019)."
The chief designer could not specify the time, explaining it by unpredictable weather conditions in Russia.
"We usually combine the maiden flight with a wide program of flights, but, if it is overcast, we’d rather not take additional risks," he said.
II-78M-90A will be the first tanker aircraft produced in Russia. The plane will receive three devices of the hose-and-drogue refueling system, with two of them on the outboard wings and one in the rear body on the right side.
The II-78M-90A will be able to refuel simultaneously two frontline planes. The tail unit is designed to refuel long-range and special aircraft. When the II-78M-90A is exploited on the ground, four aircraft can be refueled at a time.