Russia is in the throes of a major re-equipment of its military air transport fleet and a key component of this modernisation – the IL-112V light transport aircraft – is about to begin flight tests.
The IL-112 has a long history. The original design dates to the 1980s, when it was conceived by the USSR as a replacement for its longstanding AN-26 light transport aircraft. Development was then abandoned during the chaotic years of the 1990s, only to be relaunched in 2011. It was then abandoned again when the Russian military decided instead to buy AN-140 light transports from Ukraine. Work on the IL-112 however resumed in 2013 – before the Maidan coup in Ukraine – and has been pursued vigorously since.
The current version IL-112V which will be flight tested shortly is a heavily modernised version of the 1980s concept, which it resembles only superficially. Capable of carrying a load of 5,000 kg over 1,000 kilometres, it will add a significant air lift capability to Russia’s military transport aviation, which traditionally uses a wider mix of transport aircraft than the US air force, whose medium to light lift capability is concentrated on much bigger and heavier C-130 Hercules.
The Russians have the IL-214, their own medium transport aircraft in the class of the C-130 Hercules, also under development to replace the AN-12. Its first flight is not however expected for some years.