Russia’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has formally cancelled its contract with the PJSC “United Aircraft Corporation” (UAC) to procure two aerial refuelling tankers, based on the Ilyushin Il-96, for the Russian Air Force.
That was reported by the Izvestiya on 4 May.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed the fact of termination of the contract for the delivery of two Il-96-400TZ, but declined to comment further.
It was one of Russia’s most ambitious military projects. In 2015 the Voronezh-based aircraft manufacturer VASO, part of UAC, was ordered to build two aerial refuelling tankers, based on the Ilyushin Il-96 for the Russian Aerospace Forces. The new aircraft is being designated as the Il-96-400TZ and had to equipped with the Zvezda UPAZ-1 aerial refueling system, which has been previously proven on the Il-78 tanker flown by the Russian Air Force.
According to the specification, the IL-96-400TZ was supposed to transport over 65 tons (IL-78M 40 tons) of fuel for a distance of up to 3.5 (Il-78M 3000 km) thousand kilometers.
It had been expected that if the first two flying tankers it would pass the tests, the plant could get new orders for an additional 30 such planes.
“United Aircraft Corporation” proposed to convert two cargo Il-96-400T plane into Il-96-400TZ aerial refuelling tankers in a speedy procedures – for one and a half to two years without a full cycle of research and development activities. However, the Ministry of Defence did not agree with this proposal.