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The Ilyushin Il-78
(NATO reporting name Midas
) is a four-engined aerial refueling
tanker based on the Il-76
Design and development
The Il-76 tanker was conceived as long ago as 1968, but the transferable fuel load for the initial version was only 10 tonnes
, which was insufficient, so development was shelved. When the higher performance Il-76 became available the tanker project was re-started in 1982 as the Il-78
In addition to the increased fuel load of the late model Il-76, the Il-78 has two removable 18,230-liter fuel tanks installed in the freight hold, giving transferable loads of (with hold tanks) or (without). Controlled from the gunner station, which is stripped of military equipment, three aircraft can refuel in flight simultaneously from the UPAZ-1A (Il-78) / UPAZ-1M (Il-78M) refuelling pods fitted to the outer wings and rear fuselage. In addition, four aircraft can also be refuelled on the ground using conventional refueling hoses extending from the freight hold. Because of the aircraft's high all-up weight after take-off, which in an emergency would mean landing at weights well in excess of maximum allowable landing weight, the Il-78 has a fuel jettison system with jettison ports at the wingtips.
Soon after the Il-78 passed acceptance tests in 1984, Ilyushin were instructed to design and produce an upgraded version to be known as......