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russia’s Ministry of Defense Orderes Il-100 Slon Heavy Airlifter, Wants to Have as Many as 25 An-124 by 2026

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russian An-124 heavy transport aircraft during military transport aviation exercises, December 2023 / Open source photo
russian An-124 heavy transport aircraft during military transport aviation exercises, December 2023 / Open source photo

The russians have ambitious plans to expand the fleet of military transport aircraft, which may be very difficult to implement

The Ministry of Defense of the russian federation ordered the development of a heavy transport aircraft as part of the Il-100 Slon project (Slon or Слон in russian stands for Elephant), the patent for which was registered in May 2022, while the media "presentation" took place at the end of 2023. Judging by the publicly available images, the russian Il-100 Slon heavy transport aircraft should be suspiciously similar to the An-124 "Ruslan". It should be noted that the implementation of this project has its own technological barriers.

In addition, the russians want to increase the number of An-124 "Ruslan" aircraft in military transport aviation to 25 units by 2026, that is, to have more than 2 times more than they have now. This is stated in the publication of aviation columnist Piotr Butowski for the Polish ZBiAM.

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russia’s Ministry of Defense Wants to have as Many as 25 An-124 by 2026 and has ordered Il-100 Slon, One of the renders according to the project of the russian Il-100 Slon aircraft, Defense Express
One of the renders according to the project of the russian Il-100 Slon aircraft / Open source photo

What is known about the project

At the moment, it is assumed that Il-100 Slon will have a carrying capacity of 100 tons. The release of the aircraft should take place at the Aviastar plant in Ulyanovsk, where the IL-76 is currently manufactured under a contract with the Ministry of Defense of the russian federation. It is known that russians also carry out the illegal maintenance and modernization of An-124 "Ruslan" aircraft on the plant for the military transport aviation of the so-called "russian Aerospace Forces".

Apparently, the Il-100 Slon development project is currently still at the stage of "defining the final drafts" of this aircraft, and the prospects for launching its serial production can only be talked about in the interests of spreading propaganda.

russia’s Ministry of Defense Wants to have as Many as 25 An-124 by 2026 and has ordered Il-100 Slon, Aerodynamic model made as part of the Il-100 Slon project, Defense Express
Aerodynamic model made as part of the Il-100 Slon project / Open source photo

Part of the propaganda renderings and photos of the model for blowing in the wind tunnel show that the Il-100 Slon is almost a copy of the An-124 "Ruslan". At the same time, the image from the patent of the Ministry of Defense of the russian federation for the "super-heavy transport aircraft", which probably also refers to the Il-100 Slon project, indicates that from the outside this aircraft embodies something "average" between the An-124 "Ruslan" and IL-76.

The main problem of Il-100 Slon

However, the main problem of the russian Il-100 Slon project is an engine. At the moment, the russians are still deciding which engine to chose to make this aircraft - the modernized D-18T (which is used on the An-124 "Ruslan") or the promising PD-35, which is rather raw.

If the russians choose the second option, they will first have to "incarnate in metal" the PD-35, and only then continue work on the Il-100 Slon.

russia’s Ministry of Defense Wants to have as Many as 25 An-124 by 2026 and has ordered Il-100 Slon, Render from the patent of the Ministry of Defense of the russian federation for
Render from the patent of the Ministry of Defense of the russian federation for "super heavy transport aircraft", which probably also refers to the Il-100 Slon project / Open source photo

Defense Express will monitor changes in the implementation of the Il-100 Slon project and will inform its readers.

Defense Express reported earlier, that France was Short on Ukrainian An-124 Ruslan Planes But There Was No Replacement.

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