Tag Archives: strategic

Ilyushin: first next-gen military IL-76-MD90 in 2014

Russian airplane design bureau Ilyushin says the company expects the first new IL-76MD-90A strategic airlifter to be delivered to the Russian Air Force in 2014 and another two in 2015, according to its chief designer to Russian press agency ITAR-TASS on Wednesday 19 March 2014.

The MD-90 upgrade of the old IL-76 model features a new wing, more powerful engines (PS-90A-76), an improved fuel system, digital sight and navigation system, a cruise control and a so-called glass cockpit where traditional meters have been replaced by LCD screens.

The next decade or so 39 aircraft have been ordered. According to ITAR-TASS production is planned in Tashkent, while Ilyushin earlier said Ulyanovsk’s Aviastar plant would do the job. Russian media regularly report the aircraft as IL-476, which has been Ilyushin’s project name for the modernisation process that started in 2006. The first flight tests with the IL-76MD-90A were in September 2012. The aircraft has an increased air-drop load, which makes it useful in transport and support of the Russian Airborne Troops Command (VDV for Vozdushno-desantnye voyska or in Russian Воздушно-десантные войска).

© 2014 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger with technical information from Ilyushin

Test flight of the new Ilyushin IL-76MD-90A strategic airlifter (Image © Ilyushin)
Test flight of the new Ilyushin IL-76MD-90A strategic airlifter (Image © Ilyushin)

Ukraine’s low-key military op with Denmark & USAF

The Ukrainian Air Force IL-76 coming in to land during Northern Falcon 2014 at Greenland (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
The Ukrainian Air Force IL-76 coming in to land during Northern Falcon 2014 at Greenland (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)

LATEST UPDATE 1 APRIL 2014 (ADDITIONAL PHOTO AND MISSION SPECS) | The Ukrainian Air Force started its low-key annual military transport operation with NATO-members Denmark and the US on 13 March 2014, part an air transport and technical agreement made by the two countries years ago.

During operation Northern Falcon 2014 an Ukrainian AF IL-76MD (Іл-76МД, NATO reporting name Candid) strategic airlifter from Melitopol Airbase near the Crimean peninsula took off from Borispol airport for Aalborg Airbase in Denmark. After picking up equipment at the Danish Air Force base the mission goes to Thule Air Base on Greenland, run by the US Air Force’s 821st Air Base Group. Thule is the US military’s northernmost installation, located 750 miles (1207 km) north of the Arctic Circle.

As of 28 March 2014 the Ukrainian “Candid” already completed 11 missions included transport of over 137 tons of cargo and more than 166 thousand liters of fuel, accumulating more than 51 flight hours since the start of the operation. Amongst the cargo are seven 50 m3 fuel tanks that are too big to be transported on board the Royal Danish Air Force’s own C-130J Super Hercules aircraft.

    Thule Air Base
    Thule Air Base is home to the 21st Space Wing’s global network of sensors providing missile warning, space surveillance and space control to North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and Air Force Space Command. The base hosts the 12th Space Warning Squadron who operates a Ballistic Missile Early Warning System designed to detect and track ICBMs launched against North America. Thule is also host to Detachment 1 of the 23rd Space Operations Squadron, part of the 50th Space Wing’s global satellite control network. Thule has a 10,000 foot runway and services 3,000 flights per year.

    The Ukrainian Air Force IL-76 at Greenland during Operation Northern Falcon 2014 (Image © Flyvevåbnet)
    The Ukrainian Air Force IL-76 at Greenland during Operation Northern Falcon 2014 (Image © Flyvevåbnet)

    Constable Pynt
    The 20 Ukrainian troops tasked and their IL-76MD are tasked with transporting 600 thousand litres (157,032 gallons) of fuel and other cargo from Thule to Constable Pynt (Point), the airstrip of the Danish most remote forward location called Station Nord in East Greenland. Only 933 km (504 nm) from the North Pole it is a science station manned 24/7 by a small detachment of 5 volunteering military men from the three branches of the Danish armed forces that provide dog sledge patrols.

    The air bridge provided by the Ukrainian Candid is the life line of the station. The plan is to execute 58 missions with a total of 100 flight hours in the skies over Greenland, during which temperatures can drop as low as -50 degrees Celsius (-58 Fahrenheit) and wind speeds up to 20 metres (60 feet) per second. In fact, during the last weekend of April the Ukrainian IL-76 crew had to combat a snow storm with 2 metres fresh white powder at Station Nord.

    The flights are executed without the help of radio navigation equipment on the ground and without alternative landing spot. The final flight of Northern Falcon 2014 is planned for 10 April.

    Source: Ukrainian Ministry of Defence / US Air Force / Danish Ministry of Defence / Flyvevåbnet

    The Ukrainian Air Force IL-76MD tasked with Northern Falcon 2014 at Thule (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
    The Ukrainian Air Force IL-76MD tasked with Northern Falcon 2014 at Thule (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)

    Final countdown on C-17 production line

    An US Air Force Boeing C-17A Globemaster III strategic airlifter at Ramstein Airbase, Germany (Deutschland). This aircraft with registration number 21100 serves with the 437th Air Wing / 315th AW, Air Mobility Command at Charleston AFB, South Carolina, USA. (Image © Marcel Burger)
    An US Air Force Boeing C-17A Globemaster III strategic airlifter at Ramstein Airbase, Germany (Deutschland). This aircraft with registration number 21100 serves with the 437th Air Wing / 315th AW, Air Mobility Command at Charleston AFB, South Carolina, USA. (Image © Marcel Burger)

    After more than 20 years the end is in sight for the C-17 production line at the Boeing factory in Long Beach, California. But the aircraft manufacturer hopes for more.

    The Globemaster III, as the aircraft is called, has come a long way. The aircraft was initially developed during the Cold War and designed to quickly put heavy M1 Abrams main battle tanks into the battlefield, with secundary other very important gear. The deployment of one C-17 could, depending on its load, change the course of a battle. But such a strategic asset needs to be reliable and many childhood problems threatened the entire project all together.

    The US Air Force first ordered only 40 C-17s, but when Boeing overcame initial problems and the USAF had to retire its aging C-141 Starlifters, the American armed forces quickly saw what was lacking. True, there was the giant C-5 Galaxy and hundreds of C-130s, but with only 40 C-17 too little in between. Like the C-130s the Globemasters are able to insert their load directly into the battlefield, needing only short air strips and having no problem with unpaved runways.

    The C-17 Globemaster III typically has a crew of two pilots plus one loadmaster. It can carry 158 fully-equiped troops or 158 paratroopers. Alternatively it can airlift and insert one M1 Abrams tank or three Stryker armoured personnel carriers or six smaller armoured vehicles or several trucks and cars. The Globemaster can cruise up to 450 knots, has a range of 4,482 km (2,785 miles) to be extended by in-flight refueling, needs loaded a take-off strip of 2,316 meters (7,600 ft) and would normally land on anything from 1,060 meters (3,500 ft) or longer.

    Decades after its first flight and the first 1991 production aircraft 223 Boeing C-17A Globemasters III fly with the US Air Force and its subsidiaries, with the last delivered to the USAF on September 12. Moreover, the aircraft has been sold to the Royal Air Force (8 C-17A-ER), the Royal Australian Air Force (6 C-17A-ER), the Royal Canadian Air Force (4 C-17A-ER as CC-177), the NATO/EU Heavy Lift Wing (3 C-17A at Papa in Hungary), Qatar Emiri Air Force (4 C-17A), United Arab Emirates Air Force (6 C-17A) and the Indian Air Force (10 C-17A).

    The way it looks now, the final seven C-17s for the Indian Air Force will be the last of the C-17s to leave the nest at Long Beach. Unless a new client stands up.

    Update 12 September: the final USAF C-17 was delivered to Charleston AFB today, as reported here.

    © 2013 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger

    IL-76 in full swing to turn 90

    Big is cool, proved the Ilyushin design bureau when it launched the Il-76 in 1971. The days of the Candid, the name NATO gave to it, are far from numbered as the Russian plane makers are in full swing to make the trustworthy lady turn 90.

    The Russian Ministry of Defence prepares for the go-ahead to serial produce the yet newest version of the strategic freighter: the IL-76MD-90A. It flew first on July 10th, 2013, from the Gromov Zhukovsky airfield in Russia and subsequently made two more test flights in the two days after.

    It even looks like the Ilyushin and Russian defence guys can’t wait to get the new aviastar rolling out in numbers from the Ulyanovsk aircraft factory, located near the Volga river in southwestern Russia.

    ,,The test program will first focus on operation of the aircraft and evaluation of systems like flight control, navigation, autopilot, IFF transponder and radio communication”, writes a company spokesperson in a press release.

    The MD-90 upgrade of the old IL-76 model features a new wing, more powerful engines, an improved fuel system, digital sight and navigation system, a cruise control and a so-called glass cockpit where traditional meters have been replaced by LCD screens.

    At first three production models will be made, with customer delivery already planned as early as 2014.

    © 2013 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger

    Test flight of the new Ilyushin IL-76MD-90A strategic airlifter (Image © Ilyushin)
    Test flight of the new Ilyushin IL-76MD-90A strategic airlifter (Image © Ilyushin)

    Defensive US stealth bomber squadron nuclear certified

    During early morning operations, 131st Bomb Wing Missouri Air National Guard maintainers service a B-2 Spirit at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. (Image Master Sgt. Robert Trubia © US Air National Guard)
    During early morning operations, 131st Bomb Wing Missouri Air National Guard maintainers service a B-2 Spirit at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. (Image Master Sgt. Robert Trubia © US Air National Guard)

    It sounds like a big contradiction: stealth bombers with nuclear weapons not to attack the enemy, but to defend the territory of the United States. But that is what they more or less have become since the first and only Air National Guard (ANG) wing flying with the B-2 Spirit is now certified to conduct nuclear missions.

    The 131st Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, concluded a six year transition from an F-15 Eagle fighter unit to a B-2 strategic bomber outfit with a nuclear consent in the first week of August 2013. It marked the first time in history of the Guard that a bomb wing has been certified in the delivery of nuclear weapons. That goes all the way back to 1636 when regional home militias of the young United States were organised in what is officially since 1903 the National Guard, with the ANG being the air component of the United States’ homeland defences.

    In 2008, the wing had fewer than 60 members stationed at Whiteman AFB, when they conducted the first all-Guard B-2 sortie, which included both the launch and operation of the aircraft. Today, nearly all 800 members are based at Whiteman AFB, with completely integrated maintenance crews and almost three times the number of qualified pilots. The 131st Bomb Wing is associated with the active US Air Force 509th Bomb Wing, thereby sharing expensive resources such as the B-2 bombers themselves.

    The first so-called ‘combat total force integration mission’ the wings conducted came in March 2011, when three B-2s flew over Libya, dropping 45 joint direct attack munitions to destroy hardened aircraft shelters and thereby according to a press release “crippling Muammar Gaddafi’s air forces and helping enforce the United Nations’ no-fly zone”. The six aircrew members who flew that mission included both active duty and Guard pilots, demonstrating the first real-world combat mission the B-2 conducted since Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

    © 2013 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger with source information of the US Air National Guard