Russia is to militarize the brand-new MS-21 (MC-21 in Russian) airliner under development with Irkut as lead, sources in Moscow and at the Paris Air Show (PAS15) have confirmed. Like with the Boeing 737 turned into the P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol and airborne surveillance platform, the Russian military is reportedly keen to do the same thing with the new flagship civilian airliner.
The Russian Ministry of Defence is or will soon order 30 to 45 MS-21. They are to start replacing its aging Tupolev Tu-134 and Tu-154 aircraft serving as VIP/transport aircraft. The Tupolevs also provide specializations. The UBL version, for example, flies as a bomber trainer operating from Tambov Airbase with as many as 30 believed to be operational. The Russian Air Force reportedly still has 9 Tu-134s and 17 Tu-154s operational for passenger duties.
With the first MS-21 being assembled since April 2015, Irkut is already focusing on getting more orders by adding military configurations to the Magistralny Samolyot 21 (MS-21 or “Carbon Fibre” plane).
As a civilian airliner the MS-21 might snoop up future orders from f.ex. Aeroflot that would otherwise go to Boeing or Airbus.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: Computer rendering of the Irkut MC-21 / MS-21 (Image © United Aircraft Corporation)