Antonov An-124 Ruslan

The Antonov An-124 Ruslan (Ukrainian: Антонов Ан-124 "Руслан") (NATO reporting name: Condor) is a strategic airlift jet aircraft. It was designed by the Antonov design bureau in the Ukrainian SSR, then part of the Soviet Union (USSR). Until the Boeing 747-8F, the An-124 was, for thirty years, the world's highest aircraft gross weight production cargo airplane and second heaviest operating cargo aircraft, behind the one-off Antonov An-225 (a greatly enlarged design based on the An-124). The An-124 remains the largest military transport aircraft in the world.

During development it was known as Izdeliye 400 (Product #400) in house, and An-40 in the West. First flown in 1982, civil certification was issued on 30 December 1992. In July 2013, 26 An-124s were in commercial service with 10 on order. In August 2014, it was reported that Antonov An-124 production was stopped due to the ongoing political tensions between Russia and Ukraine.


Antonov An-124 Ruslan
Class Aircraft
Type Transport
Manufacturer Antonov
Origin Russia (USSR)
Country Name Origin Year
Russia (USSR) 1982
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Libya View
Russia (USSR) 1986 View
Ukraine View
United Arab Emirates View
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Antonov 1982 55 View

During the 1970s, the VTA (Military Transport Aviation) arm of the Soviet Air Forces had a shortfall in strategic heavy airlift capacity. Its largest planes consisted of about 50 Antonov An-22 turboprops, which were used heavily for tactical roles. A classified 1975 CIA analysis concluded that the USSR did "...not match the US in ability to provide long-range heavy lift support."

The An-124 was manufactured in parallel by two plants: the Russian company Aviastar-SP (ex. Ulyanovsk Aviation Industrial Complex) and by the Kyiv Aviation Plant AVIANT, in Ukraine. Design work started in 1971 and construction of facilities began in 1973. Manufacturing on the first airframe began in 1979.[11] Ultimately this project brought together over 100 factories contracted to produce systems and parts.

The first flight took place in December 1982 and the first exposure to the West followed in 1985 at the Paris Air Show.

Russia and Ukraine agreed to resume the production in the third quarter of 2008. In May 2008, a new variant—the An-124-150—was announced; it featured several improvements, including a maximum lift capacity of 150 tonnes. However, in May 2009, Antonov's partner, United Aircraft Corporation announced it did not plan production of An-124s in the period 2009–2012. In late 2009, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered production of the aircraft resumed. It is expected that Russia will purchase 20 new aircraft. In August 2014, Jane's reported that, Russian Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Yuri Slusar announced that Antonov An-124 production was stopped due to ongoing political tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

Externally, the An-124 is similar to the American Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, having a double fuselage to allow for a rear cargo door (on the lower fuselage) that can open in flight without affecting structural integrity. It is slightly shorter, with a slightly greater wingspan, and a 25% larger payload. Instead of the Galaxy's T-tail, the An-124 uses a conventional empennage, similar in design to that of the Boeing 747.

The aircraft uses oleo strut suspension for its 24 wheels. The suspension has been calibrated to allow landing on rough terrain. and is able to kneel to allow easier front loading. The plane has an onboard overhead crane capable of lifting up to 30 tonnes of cargo, and items up to 120 tonnes can be winched on board.

Up to 150 tonnes (150 long tons; 170 short tons) of cargo can be carried in a military An-124; it can also carry 88 passengers in an upper deck behind the wing centre section. The cargo compartment of An-124 is 36×6.4×4.4 m (118×21×14 ft), ca. 20% larger than the main cargo compartment of C-5 Galaxy, which is 36.91×5.79×4.09 m (121.1×19.0×13.4 ft). Due to limited pressurisation in the main cargo compartment (24.6 kPa, 3.57 psi), it seldom carries paratroopers.

Pilots have stated that the An-124 is light on the controls and easy to handle for an aircraft of its size.

Some airports require pavement protection from the heat and blast effects of the An-124's auxiliary power unit.

Variants

  • An-124 Ruslan : Strategic heavy airlift transport aircraft
  • An-124-100 : Commercial transport aircraft
  • An-124-100M-150 : Commercial transport version fitted with Western avionics
  • An-124-102 : Commercial transport version with an EFIS flight deck
  • An-124-115M : Planned new variant with EFIS based on Rockwell Collins avionic parts
  • An-124-130 : Proposed version
  • An-124-135 : Variant with one seat in the rear and the rest of the cargo area (approx. 1,800 square feet) dedicated to freight
  • An-124-150 : New variant with increased payload (150 tones)
  • An-124-200 : Proposed version with General Electric CF6-80C2 engines, each rated at 59,200 lbf (263 kN)
  • An-124-210 :  Joint proposal with Air Foyle to meet UK's Short Term Strategic Airlifter (STSA) requirement, with Rolls-Royce RB211-524H-T engines, each rated 60,600 lbf (264 kN) and Honeywell avionics—STSA competition abandoned in August 1999, reinstated, and won by the Boeing C-17A.
  • An-124-300 : variant ordered by the Russian Air Force with new avionics, a new improved braking system and a payload of 150 tons.[38] 

Germany led the recent effort to lease An-124s for NATO strategic airlift requirements. Two aircraft are leased from SALIS GmbH as a stopgap until the Airbus A400M is available. Under NATO SALIS programme NAMSA is chartering six An-124-100 transport aircraft. According to the contract An-124-100s of Antonov Airlines and Volga-Dnepr are used within the limits of NATO SALIS programme to transport cargo by requests of 18 countries: Belgium, Hungary, Greece, Denmark, Canada, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Finland, France, Germany, Czech Republic and Sweden. Two An-124-100s are constantly based on full-time charter in the Leipzig/Halle airport, but the contract specifies that if necessary, two more aircraft will be provided on six days notice and another two on nine days notice. The aircraft proved extremely useful for NATO especially with ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

United Launch Alliance (ULA) contracts the An-124 to transport the Atlas V launch vehicle from its facilities in Decatur, Alabama to Cape Canaveral. ULA also uses the An-124 to transport the Atlas V launch vehicle and Centaur upper stage from their manufacturing facility in Denver, Colorado to Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Air Force Base. Two flights are required to transfer each launch vehicle (one for the Atlas V main booster stage and another for the Centaur upper stage). It is also contracted by Space Systems Loral to transport satellites from Palo Alto, CA to the Arianespace spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

Airbus Transport International, a subsidiary of Airbus, has selected another Russian cargo company, Polet Airlines as "designated carrier" to the company. Polet expects its three An-124-100s will transport astronautic equipment manufactured by EADS, which is Airbus' parent company, and components of the Airbus A380 superjumbo.

As of 2013 the An-124 has visited 768 airports in over 100 countries.

Significant activities

  •     On May 1987, an An-124 set a world record, covering the distance of 20,151 km (10,881 nmi) without refuelling. The flight took 25 hours and 30 minutes; the takeoff weight was 455,000 kg.
  •     In July 1985, an An-124 carried 171,219 kg (377,473 lb) of cargo to an altitude of 2,000 m (6,600 ft) and 170,000 kg to an altitude of 10,750 m (35,270 ft).
  •     An An-124 was used to transport the Obelisk of Axum back to its native homeland of Ethiopia from Rome in April 2005.
  •     An An-124 was used to transport an EP-3E Aries II electronic intelligence aircraft from Hainan Island, China on 4 July 2001 following the Hainan Island incident.
  •     In July 2010, an An-124 was used to transport four 35-foot and three 21-foot skimmer boats from France to the US to assist with the clean-up of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
  •     An An-124 was used in April 2011 to airlift a large Putzmeister concrete pump from Germany to Japan to help cool reactors damaged in the Fukushima nuclear accident. The An-225 was used to transport an even larger Putzmeister concrete pump to Japan from the United States.


Role Transport aircraft
National origin Soviet Union
Manufacturer Antonov, Aviastar-SP
First flight 26 December 1982
Introduction 1986
Status In service
Primary users Russian Air Force
Antonov Airlines
Volga-Dnepr Airlines
Produced 1982–present
Number built 55
Unit cost US$70–100 million
Developed into Antonov An-225


General characteristics

  • Crew: 4–6 (pilot, copilot, navigator, senior flight engineer (+flight engineer, radio man) + 2 loadmasters)
  • Capacity: 88 passengers or the hold can take an additional 350 on a palletised seating system
  • Payload: 150,000 kg (330,000 lb)
  • Length: 68.96 m (226 ft 3 in)
  • Wingspan: 73.3 m (240 ft 5 in)
  • Height: 20.78 m (68 ft 2 in)
  • Wing area: 628 m² (6,760 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 175,000 kg (385,000 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 405,000 kg (893,000 lb)
  • Useful load: 230,000 kg (508,000 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 405,000 kg (893,000 lb)
  • Powerplant: 4 × Progress D-18T turbofans, 229.5 kN (51,600 lbf) each

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 865 km/h (467 kn (537 mph))
  • Cruise speed: 800–850 km/h (430 kn (490 mph))
  • Range: 5,200 km (2,808 nm, 3231 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 12,000 m (39,370 ft)
  • Wing loading: 365 kg/m² (74.7 lb/sq ft)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.23
  • Take-off run distance (maximum take-off weight): 2,520 m (8,270 ft)
  • Landing roll distance at maximum landing weight: 900 m (3,000 ft)

Flight range

An-124-100

  • 0 tons of cargo= 15,000 km (8,100 nmi)[50]
  • 10 tons of cargo= 14,100 km (7,613 nmi)
  • 20 tons of cargo= 13,250 km (7,154 nmi)
  • 30 tons of cargo= 12,300 km (6,641 nmi)
  • 40 tons of cargo= 11,500 km (6,210 nmi)
  • 72 tons of cargo= 8,700 km (4,698 nmi)
  • 90 tons of cargo= 7,100 km (3,834 nmi)
  • 97 tons of cargo= 6,500 km (3,510 nmi)
  • 104 tons of cargo= 5,900 km (3,186 nmi)
  • 108 tons of cargo= 5,550 km (2,997 nmi)
  • 120 tons of cargo= 4,500 km (2,430 nmi)

?n-124-100?-150

  • 40 tons of cargo= 11,900 km (6,425 nmi)
  • 92 tons of cargo= 7,500 km (4,050 nmi)
  • 113 tons of cargo= 5,900 km (3,186 nmi)
  • 120 tons of cargo= 5,400 km (2,916 nmi)
  • 122 tons of cargo= 5,200 km (2,808 nmi)
  • 150 tons of cargo= 3,200 km (1,728 nmi)

End notes