India Is Out, But Russia Continues Developing Il-214 Transport

 - April 11, 2016, 10:56 AM
Russian and Indian companies previously exhibited scale models of the planned Multirole Transport Aircraft. (Photo: Vladimir Karnozov)

The Russian government will fund development of the Ilyushin Il-214 medium airlifter and production of about a hundred such aircraft for the Russian Air and Space Force (VKS), according to industry sources close to the program. Allocations for procurement will be provided in the Kremlin's new Armament Program after 2020, following the current program timed for 2010-2020.

The Il-214 is, effectively, a version of the Indo-Russian Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA). Moscow and New Delhi signed a government-to-government agreement for the MTA in 2007. This was followed three years later by a co-development agreement at the industry level. A newly established Multirole Transport Aircraft Ltd. (MTAL) company based in Bangalore made its first appearance at airshows with a stand at AeroIndia 2010.

The development costs were previously estimated at $600 million, and were to be covered by both parties on equal terms. Serial examples of the aircraft would cost between $35 and $40 million. The global market for the MTA was forecast at 400 units, including special mission versions for electronic warfare, airborne early warning and control, reconnaissance and patrol and airborne tanker.

India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) and its Russian collaborators signed agreements in 2012 that established a joint team of 150 designers in Moscow and Bangalore. The team started working on MTA documentation in December that year. Shortly thereafter, however, the effort was discontinued over disagreements and misunderstandings. In January, Ilyushin general manager Sergei Velmozhkin told reporters: “As a joint project between Russia and India, this project has been halted.”

Designers in Moscow, however, continue to develop documentation for the aircraft tailored to VKS requirements. A September 2015 protocol between Russia’s Ministry of Defense and industry calls for completion of Il-214 development.

“The Indians are very difficult people to do business with,” Ilyushin general designer Nikolai Talikov told AIN. “At first, it looked like they are all set to go, but later they began to hesitate. The two countries considered many options, including joint production of Il-114 and, later, the MTA…In the end, Russia will make this aircraft alone, under the designation Il-214.”

The Il-214 program is currently at the draft design stage. Documentation for the manufacturing plant—Aviastar, in Ulianovsk—will be prepared after the design house completes similar work on the smaller Il-112V tactical airlifter for production at the VASO plant in Voronezh. According to Talikov, VASO is on track to make an airframe for structural testing this year, followed by a first prototype and its maiden flight in 2017.

Subsequently, the Il-214 prototype is planned for completion “around 2020,” Talikov said. Developmental prototypes and early production examples will have twin Aviadvigatel PS-90A1 turbofans, each developing 17.4 tons of thrust. These will later be replaced by the more advanced PD-14M producing 18 tons of thrust.

The current work schedule and engine choice are markedly different from earlier ones. Under agreements signed in 2007-2010, the MTA was to make its maiden flight between 2016 and 2018. It was to be powered by CFM International CFM56 or IAE V2500 turbofans, as these were favored above Russian and Ukrainian options to power 45 deliverable aircraft for the Indian air force.

The most recent information on MTA/Il-214 performance and specification metrics available from Russian industry sites specify a maximum takeoff weight of 68 metric tons (149,912 pounds), maximum payload of 20 metric tons (44,092 pounds)and runway length at 1,600 m to 1,800 m (5,250 to 6,000 feet). Design targets include transportation of a 20-ton payload to 2,250 km (1,214 nm) and 10-ton payload to 6,400 km (3,454 nm) at a cruise speed of 437 ktas. The aircraft’s service life will be 35 years and 30,000 flight hours.

Outwardly, the Il-214 resembles a classic twinjet with T-shaped empennage and two high-bypass turbofan engines on underwing pylons. The cabin cross section (with fuselage diameter of about 16 feet) is similar to the much heavier Il-76 four-engine transport. The Il-214 will be able to accommodate two standard army trucks or five airline containers. In a single-deck layout, the aircraft would accommodate 70 to 82 paratroopers; a double-decker would carry up to 150.

The crew station is modeled after that of the Il-476 and features six multifunction displays and two head-up displays. Takeoff and landing operations can be made using both paved and unpaved runways, in hot-and-high environments, and during day or night conditions.