Ilyushin has teamed up with Russian unmanned air system developer Kronstadt Group to develop a large autonomous aircraft that could deliver cargo to remote areas.

The two partners plan to start with developing a demonstrator based on the design of the twin-engine Ilyushin Il-112 military transport.

“Given the active development of the Arctic, it can be assumed that aircraft capable of transporting up to several tons of cargo from on point to another in an autonomous mode will be highly demanded,” states Alexey Rogozin, general director of the Ilyushin Aviation Complex.

Ilyushin is developing the Il-112V with a 5t payload and TB7-117CT turboprop engines to replace a fleet of aging Antonov An-26 aircraft.

St. Petersburg-based Kronstadt, meanwhile, is developing a medium-sized unmanned air system called the Orion. A demonstration testbed for the Orion aircraft was unveiled at the MAKS air show in July 2017. Kronstadt emerged after the bankruptcy of the Transas Group.

"We want to be technologically ready to open this market. Joint work with PJSC "IL" will allow us to optimize the time and resources, and therefore the first to create answers to market demands. “

The two companies are now partnering to apply Kronstadt’s autonomous technology to Ilyushin’s aircraft designs.

Although the project is beginning potentially with an Il-112V demonstrator, the new partners may have an ambition to develop a new aircraft. Despite issuing the press release, Ilyushin doesn’t confirm that possibility directly, but cites unnamed “industry experts” as saying the “outcome of the work of the two competence centres will be a project to create a specialised transport aircraft”.