Russia is pushing ahead with the project to replace the Antonov An-124. Now a first model of the plane with the project name Slon has been created.
The Antonov An-124 is in demand worldwide. The heavy transport plane can carry 150 tons of freight. It is 68.96 meters long, has a wingspan of 73.3 meters and a height of 20.78 meters. This is why it is often used when large or heavy parts have to be transported.
Today, only 23 of them remain in service with private airlines – Antonov Airlines, Volga-Dnepr and Maximus Air Cargo. However, the Ukrainian manufacturer Antonov has no money to further develop the An-124 or even launch a new model on the market. That’s why Russia – formerly a cooperation partner of the Ukrainians – has been planning its own version for some time.
Tests in wind tunnels
At the beginning of the year, the country announced that it had begun development. The project is called Slon, which means elephant in English. The four-engine jet will be able to transport 150 tons of freight at a cruising speed of 850 kilometers per hour for about 7000 kilometers. With a maximum load of 180 tons, 4900 kilometers are possible, according to the planning.
Previous presentations had shown that the aircraft would be 82.3 meters long and 24 meters high at the highest point. The span is given as 87.1 to 88.3 metres. The An-124 successor will be powered by four Aviadvigatel PD-35 engines. Now a 120 kilogram small model has been produced at the Central Aerodynamic Institute Tsagi in Moscow. It is 1.63 meters long, the wingspan is almost 1.75 meters, the height is almost 0.5 meters. The mini Slon is now being tested in wind tunnels to analyze its properties. The model is transformable – it can be tested in different configurations, according to the Tsagi.