India to upgrade Il-78MKI tanker aircraft

India upgrade Ilyushin Il-78MKI tanker
Indian Air Force Il-78MKI tanker aircraft.

Six Ilyushin Il-78MKI tankers "Midas" of the Indian Air Force (IAF) will receive maintenance and partial modernization shortly, according to the Russian newspaper Kommersant.

The newspaper said that New Delhi has signed a contract worth 80 million dollars with the company PJSC Ilyushin for the upgrade of 6 aircraft.

The works will be carried out simultaneously at OJSC Ilyushin Flight Test and Development Base in Zhukovsky and at the 123rd maintenance facility located at Staraya Russa AB in Novgorod.

The maintenance involves the replacement of all the engines and a modernization of the avionics systems and components to significantly increase the operational life of the aircraft.

Currently the Il-78MKI is the only tanker aircraft in the IAF fleet. Since 2006 India has repeatedly tried to buy an Airbus A330 MRTT, but due to high costs the deal has never been concluded.

At the same time, Russia is ready to offer India its new Ilyushin Il-78M-90A tanker currently under development. The new variant boasts new engines that offer better performance at lower operating costs as well as modern avionics.

Written by Matteo Sanzani


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