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Special Planes : The Antonov 124 , Russian Giant

by Elco B Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 10:25:23 AM EST

Ah yes, again about a Russian plane.
This giant plane was subject of an agreement on the Brussels European top this week. How a plane of the former enemy became a strategical asset of EU and NATO.

   


First some technical stuff : Developed primarily as a strategic military freighter (in which role it can carry missile units and main battle tanks), the first prototype An-124 flew on December 26 1982. A second prototype, named Ruslan (after a Russian folk hero), made the type's first western public appearance at the Paris Airshow in June 1985, preceding the type's first commercial operations in January 1986. Since that time the An-124 has set a wide range of payload records, a recent achievement being the heaviest single load ever transported by air - a 124 tonne (273,400lb) powerplant generator and its associated weight spreading cradle, a total payload weight of 132.4 tonnes (291,940lb), set in late 1993.

Dimensions : Wing span 73.30m (240ft 6in), length 69.10m (226ft 9in), height 20.78m (68ft 2in). Wing area 628.0m2 (6760sq ft).
Remember my previous post about the Cri-Cri ? The photo below schows the An-124 in front but also a Cri-Cri and his pilot.

   

Capacity of the plane : flightcrew of six consisting of two pilots, two flight engineers, navigator and communications operator. Upper deck behind the flightdeck area features a galley, rest room and two relief crew cabins. Upper deck area behind the wing can accommodate up to 88 passengers. Main deck cargo compartment can carry a range of bulky and oversized cargos. The An-124's total payload in weight is 150 tonnes (330,695lb).

More than 60 of this plane are build and since the high demand for heavy lift operations more are in production now with even higher capacity ( over 160 tonnes payload) The USA has nothing that can meet with the An-124 and because of their never ending wars, their own heavy-lift capacity is overstretched so they cannot support their allies (Nato).
European country's military do not have real heavy-lift capacity, They have 30 tons payload planes like the Hercules C-130. For heavier duty's they have to hire or lease civilian freighters (like Jumbo's 747).
Airbus is developping the new A400 Military heavy-lift plane wich will boost the capacity of several European country's. But the A400M will not be in service before 2012 !  That's where the Antonov 124 comes in.

             

Military heavy lift in Europ is now organised by one organisation : SALIS Coordination Centre in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.   SALIS = Strategic Airlift Interim Solution. This is an agreement now signed by 16 country's to coordinate all military airtransport. (Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom - were joined by Sweden on 23 March.)

With the current engagements, the European military can now organise their transport efficiently and avoide needless costs. That way a Belgian Hercules returning from DR Congo can pick-up French troops in a nearby country avoiding two empty long distance flights. Also the heavy lift to and from Afghanistan is organised by the new pool.

Its a long and very complicated story: but the final agreement on SALIS is now signed and ratified.
There was a ceremony in Leipzig on 23 mars to make the whole thing official. A contract between 16 NATO countries and Ruslan SALIS GmbH, a subsidiary of the Russian company Volga Dnepr, based in Leipzig is working now.
The contract provides for two AN-124-100 aircraft on full-time charter, two more on six days notice and another two on nine days notice.
The contract fits in a set of frameworks so all participating country's can organise their transports, in a Nato framework but also a European and national framework.
Guess who pay's fo all this ?

Display:
I read your previous diary with similar delight, and what an incredible fun set of diaries this is turning out to be! Please go on!

And I had no idea Eindhoven was the European hub for SALIS, although I knew it was important for European military aviation. This must be the Cool Fact learned today.

Are you kidding us? Is the USA (by NATO) paying for Russian airplanes? That would be a hoot!

by Nomad on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 11:59:14 AM EST
Thanks for the nice comment.
The USA doesn't participate in this deal since they have their own capability's. But when needed they hire the An-124 as well: remember the US-spyplane-crash in China back in 1991 ?  Their own planes are not big enough : so they needed a AN-124 to bring back that spyplane home.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 01:42:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, that spyplane story was in 2001, not 1991.
Pictures of the operation here.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 02:05:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That nose door is freakin' cool.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 12:32:17 PM EST
Yep :



The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 01:02:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a great picture!

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 01:32:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great diaries. And picture. (Does that logo say 'Roast Flight'?!)

I took a random stroll around a local aeronautical museum a couple of weeks ago.

How many people have actually looked at an aeroplane engine? This museum had plenty of cutaways of everything from soon-after-Wright tens of bhp engines to rocket motors. And they're all amazing. I have no idea what's involved in putting together even one of the early models, but there is such a huge amount of information and expertise in the layout, gearing, cooling, materials science, and fueling that it's almost a life's study in itself.

The museum also had an old Polaris missile. (Without warhead.) Bizarrely inside the body of the missile there were safety notices. Less bizarrely, but still straight out of Planet Surreal, there were also maintainenance annotations similar to the ones you see on university or test lab equipment. (This missile has been PAT tested and is guaranteed not to electrocute or injure anyone by accident...)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 09:56:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Early satellites had ugly globs of silicone seal all over their circuitry--like something you would make in your basement...
by asdf on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 01:56:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, planes are fascinating. So much technology involved. Few people realise what research and development is done to keep a plane flying.
Your polaris story touches another aspect : on moral grounds, can we further do research and investments in a technology which purpose is killing people ? (more than 50% of total scientific work is done for the military.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 02:22:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh yes, the logo says " POLET FREIGHT "(Cyrilic alphabet) one of the operators of the AN-124

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 02:27:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I studied some of this stuff in University. One lifetime is not enough!
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 04:48:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, with the Russians selling Antonovs to SALIS, and the US refusing to play fair in military aircraft technology transfer with, of all countries, the UK, I see interesting political developments ahead.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 01:37:47 PM EST
The SALIS thing is about chartering aircraft. The planes are still owned by Russian company, Volga-Dnepr, and Ukraine's ADB.
Politicaly , it's very hard for me to dig out but I know some legislation had to be changed in Russia and Ukraine to make this deals possible. Maybe some of it must still pass the Ukrainean parliament.
Must be interesting to hear this debates.
About technology : Russians do the same thing as the USA : their top-military know-how is well protected, but building aircraft for commercial use, is increasingly done by joint ventures. The Russians are building now a new series of An-124; the cockpit screens and data-processing units are produced here in Belgium only 5km from my place.

My next plane-thing will go over the Airbus 400 Military aircraft. I'm trying to find what's all behind it, there seems to be a Russian connection to, but I didn't find confirmation so far.
Indeed, on that level , planes have a political significance.


The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 02:12:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To save people looking it up, the Airbus A380 "superjumbo" freight  version is designed to carry 150 tonnes. The A300-600ST "Beluga" has a far smaller weight capacity, around 40 tonnes but can carry larger by volume cargos than the Antonov 124. Both of course need conventional well maintained runways which presumably is why the Beluga was used after hurricane Katrina to deliver European relief supplies. Military lift type planes like the Anotonov and the A400M are designed with STOL like capability so they can use shorter or much rougher temporary runways, making them much more suitable for conventional disaster relief outside the USA.  
by Londonbear on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 02:33:37 PM EST
Super diary.. I'd also love it if you'd do one on the Antonov 225.  That's a story worth an entire documentary.

Pax

Night and day you can find me Flogging the Simian

by soj on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 03:33:13 AM EST
Yes, the 225 "Myria" is for a next story. I'm still counting the world-records this plane has set, over 50 now and still counting.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 03:57:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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