27 December 2014
Fuel on call
Conventional wisdom states that fuel tanker is a large and clumsy airplane that helps much more manoeuvrable jets. Boeing KS-135 Stratotanker, Lockheed HC-130 or IL-78 «Midas» are all good examples of such big planes. It is logical if we consider long-range strategic aviation. But what about fuelling fighter jets and helicopters during a local military conflict? A large fuel tanker airplane would be a comfortable target for the enemy and the entire refuelling could jeopardise the lives of aircraft crews. It could be different if the tanker is a mobile airplane, which can perform various aerobatic manoeuvres and dodge missiles. AN-74 is precisely such type of an aircraft; its flight characteristics have been tested by years of use and military experience. Opportunity to add wing pylons to install different weapons allows to integrate the Aerial refuelling system. External fuel tanks in the cargo section of AN-74 (3.000 kg / 3.690 litres) will increase total volumes of fuel that can fill another aircraft tank up to 16.210 kg (19.940 litres).
How to save millions
Аn-74T-200A became the foundation for the concept of AN-74 Fuel Tanker. The seat of a navigator pilot in the cockpit should be replaced by the control panel for the pilot responsible for aerial refuelling (the outline of the cockpit panel – click to see the picture in higher resolution).
Thus, the engineering expenses could be significantly reduced. The Aerial refuelling system COBHAM 908E (UK) is a state-of-art technology that complies with the highest safety standards for civil airplanes. This system allows precise coordination between the operator and the flight crew. As a result, refuelling will take place in shortest terms, which is essential particularly in the conflict zone.
New opportunities for the flying SUV
AN-74 Fuel Tanker has a unique selling point – it is easy to convert in order to fulfil different purposes. The aircraft can be turned into a tactical tanker for aerial refuelling, or int traditional logistics aircraft with payload of up to 10 tons and the maximum taking off weight of 36.5 tons. The approximate value of transforming АN-74Т-200А in Fuel Tanker (without accounting for engineering works and the price of serial production) is around 2-3 million USD.