Ukraine’s state-owned Ukrspetsexport company said Thursday that it signed a deal with Pakistan to repair and modernize the Air Force’s Il-78 aerial refueling tanker plane.
Work under the contract will be carried out by Nikolaev Aircraft Repair Plant under Ukroboronprom.
While the initial contract is to upgrade one aircraft, the total contract pegged at over $30 million, involves two more Il-78s. A contract for the remaining two will be signed based on the results of the first contract.
The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) procured its four IL-78s from Ukrainian surplus stocks in the mid-to-late 2000s. The first plane was delivered to the service in December 2009. Equipped with UPAZ re-fueling pods, the PAF has used the IL-78 to support its Mirage Retrofit Strike Element (ROSE) squadrons as well as undertake heavy-lift transport tasks.
According to Pakistani local media, a PAF Il-78 was spotted at 360th Aircraft Repair Plant in Russia’s Ryazan city in early 2017. It had set off speculations that Russia could be refurbishing the aircraft.
The Ilyushin IL-78 air-to-air refuelling tanker aircraft is a four-engine tanker principally used for in-flight refuelling. It was designed and developed on the basis of a similar predecessor, the IL-76, and has the Nato reporting name Midas.
The maiden flight of IL-78 took place on 26 June 1983 and the aircraft entered into service in 1984. About 53 aircraft are currently operational worldwide.
The IL-78 aircraft can refuel a maximum of four planes simultaneously on the ground. It can also be used as a military transport aircraft for air drop and air landing of cargo and crew.
The IL-78 has five variants, namely IL-78T, IL-78M, IL-78ME, IL-78MKI, and IL-78MP.