Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft

United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) has signed a multi-billion contract with the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) for the delivery of the newly developed Ilyushin Il-476 heavy transport aircraft, Russian president Vladimir Putin has revealed.

Putin was reported by RIA Novosti as saying that the Il-476 is the first new aircraft to be manufactured indigenously by the Russian aviation industry in the last 21 years.

"I am confident that this plane will enjoy great demand here, and among our possible partners abroad," Putin said.

The announcement was made by the president during the recent 15-minute flight test of the upgraded Il-76 aircraft at the Aviastar-SP aviation complex in Ulyanovsk, Russia.

Valued at approximately RUB140bn ($4.5bn), the contract covers the delivery of 39 aircraft to the Russian Air Force by 2020, as part of the country’s ten-year Rearmament Program, which seeks acquisition of 100 aircraft.

The Il-476, an upgraded variant of the Ilyushin Il-76 multi-purpose aircraft, features a new glass cockpit, advanced avionics, on-board communication and navigation systems and four Aviadvigatel PS-90 high-bypass turbofan engines to reduce fuel consumption.

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Displaying a modernised wing-construction, the aircraft is also capable of transporting up to 50t of cargo, which is 20% greater than its predecessor, and can travel at speeds of 850km/h.

The first prototype aircraft completed an initial flight test in September and is expected to go through a comprehensive testing programme in the coming year.

Production work will be carried out at the company’s Aviastar-SP aircraft-manufacturing plant in Urals, Russia, and the first aircraft is scheduled for delivery in 2014.

Moscow currently operates Antonov An-12 Cub, An-72 Coaler, An-22 Cock, An-124 Condor and Ilyushin Il-76 Candid aircraft for air transport missions at home and abroad.

Image: An Indian Air Force’s Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft prepares to land in Leh, Kashmir. Photo: courtesy of Karunakar Rayker.