Procurement: Saving the Il-76

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January3, 2007: Russia is joining with China to save the Il-76. Last year, China placed a $1.5 billion order for 38 Il-76 transport planes and Il-78s (tanker versions of the Il-76). Based on the older American C-141, the Il-76 is actually manufactured in Uzbekistan. That's because one of the Russian aircraft plants moved east during the German invasion of 1941, ended up in Central Asia, a part of the Soviet Union that became independent Uzbekistan in 1991. The Chkalov Tashkent Aircraft Production Company is the only one still manufacturing the Il-76. Over 900 Il-76s were manufactured there over the last thirty years, with nearly a hundred exported, so far, mainly to Cuba, Iraq, China, India, Libya and Syria. However, until this Chinese order came along, Chkalov was surviving by manufacturing wings and other components for the An-124, An-70 and An-225 transports. In addition, it made replacement parts for the Il-76 and Il-114 aircraft. The Chinese order, however, proved more than the Chkalov firm could handle. So Russia has shifted at least 60 percent of the Il-76 production to a Russian firm (Ilyushin). This means that the order will not be completed until 2013, rather than 2012. This move indicates that the Russians believe the Il-76 has a future beyond this Chinese order. Now the Il-76 will have two production lines, as well as some protection against political problems in Uzbekistan (which needs the 18,000 jobs the Chkalov operation creates, but you never know.)

 


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