Russia: Russian Cargo Planes

Ross Rogers, Jr. described the two huge Russian heavy lift cargo planes, the Anitonov   An 125  ( 2nd largest in the world) and her big sister, the An 225 Cossack (largest in the world).  One of the two An 225s was at the Paris air show a few years ago.   the fleet of An 125 heavy lift cargo planes had been  booked and managed ? by British cargo brokers.  It was a An 125 which brought the shot down US spy plane  from  the Chinese Hainan back to Georgia via Hawaii, fuselage in one piece. This, of course, received near zero  US media coverage.

Randy Black comments: I am puzzled by Mr. Rogers’ comment that “coverage was near zero” concerning the contract with the Russian plane to transport the US plane back to the USA. By the way, it was an An 124, not the 125 that Mr. Rogers mentions. Coverage of that story, THREE AND ONE HALF YEARS AGO, was front page across the USA and was covered extensively on US network evening news. It continues to be posted on their websites. For instance, a quick Google search reveals existing stories from April-July 2001 on PBS, BBC, Time Magazine, CNN, ABC, Reuters, the Associated Press and others. Then there is the NY Times, the Washington Post and about most of the rest of the US media.

From Moscow, Cameron Sawyer answers the question about large Russian cargo planes: I saw the An-225 fly, at one of the biennial Moscow air shows.  It is an amazing sight; it is difficult to describe how huge the plane is.  It is so enormous that it appears to float rather than fly; it is as if a ship suddenly rose up out of the ocean and flew.  The internal length of the cargo hold is more than 35 meters -- about 110 feet, and it can carry 275 tons.   You could fit a small ship inside it.  The An-225 was designed to carry the Russian space shuttle, piggy back, and was also intended as the launcher for the Maks Spaceplane.

This last, by the way, is an extremely interesting idea, the development of which was unfortunately interrupted by the end of the Soviet Union.  The Russians paid dearly for imitating our Space Shuttle with their Buran (which completed one successful unmanned space flight before the program was abandoned).  The space shuttle concept turned out to be a dead end with low reliability and much higher cost than the expendable boosters they were designed to replace.  The idea of a space plane is much more promising.   As far as I know, the Russians, who first came up with the idea, and started developing it even before the Buran project, are not pursuing it at present, but the U.S. is.  See which has good pages on the An-225 as well as Spiral, Buran, and Bor projects.

Ross Rogers, Jr. sends this article from Pravda (11/11/03) Russian aircraft could have saved California

Jingoism and ignorance made US authorities rule out IL-76. The Ilyushin-76 TD Waterbomber aircraft is substantially larger that the aerial firefighting equipment deployed in the USA. With a load of over 42,000 litres of water (11,000 gallons), this huge aircraft was available - and was refused  in the recent fires which devastated California.  20 lives were lost, 2,800 homes were destroyed and 750,000 acres of land were turned to ashes. However, as the IL-76 was repeatedly offered by the Russian government, the US authorities decided to rule it out, in part because "it drops too much water"

WorldNetDaily quoted US Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (Republican, California) and Curt Weldon, (R-Pa.) as having stated in a news conference last week that the Russian government repeatedly offered the aircraft to the US Forest Service.

However, the IL-76 was turned down for a number of reasons, either because it was too expensive, or because it could not make downhill runs or because it dropped too much water. The fact is that the IL-76 has never even been allowed to make a demonstration in the USA. If indeed it lacks a downhill run capacity, this would not hinder it from flooding enormous swathes of land with its enormous capacity and dousing incipient fires before they turned into blazes. Those who have been campaigning to allow the four-jet-engine Ilyushin-76 to show the Forest Service what it can do, have been labeled as fanatics.  Tried and tested in the four corners of the globe, the Ilyushin-76 sprays a blanket of water from 300 feet, flying at 151 knots, which is so effective that it does not have to use fire retardant chemicals, so massive is the expanse of water, which drenches a three-thousand-foot-long fire in just ten seconds. The IL-76 has a range of 5,000 miles and is able to take off from short runways in difficult terrain. Yet again, we see in the US authorities a protectionism which reaches far beyond the realm of logic and which defies common sense, indicating a clique-ridden and inept administration which prefers to see its citizens die than to admit that a Russian aircraft could have done the job faster and better.

Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: February 2, 2005