Ilyushin is drawing up a revamped Antonov An-124 outsize freighter based solely on domestically produced components, in response to a request from the Russian government.
Over the past two years, the design bureau has been working on development of an extensively modernised An-124-100M variant, the national minister of industry and trade Denis Manturov disclosed at the MAKS air show in Moscow.
He specifies that the scope of this work includes avionics and main systems. "Completing it will soon allow us to regard the [refashioned] An-124 as a Russian aircraft type," he adds.
"Ilyushin's team is due to present the technical project for peer review and further approval in the fourth quarter. Work toward this end is progressing as planned."
After having built 36 An-124s, Ulyanovsk-based airframer Aviastar halted their production in 2003, but it continues to provide technical support for the type.
There are 16 An-124s in service with the Russian air force and a dozen with the charter division of Volga-Dnepr Group. All are powered by Ivchenko-Progress D-18T turbofans produced by Ukrainian engine maker Motor-Sich.
Plans are also afoot to address a prospective need for a new heavy transport that сould replace the An-124.
"Government-funded studies in that area will begin before 2027," says Yuri Borisov, deputy prime minister in charge of defence procurement. "Provisions for appropriate R&D work were included in a 10-year state armament programme, effective from December 2017."
Borisov believes that the key to the fate of An-124s lies in the development of a new heavy-thrust PD-35 engine. "If it is available, we’ll simply re-motorise and digitize our An-124s. Then their service life would be at least until 2050."