MOSCOW/ULYANOVSK, October 4 (RIA Novosti)
Russia's Defense Ministry on Thursday signed a contract worth about 140 billion rubles ($4 billion) to buy 39 IL-476 transport planes, President Vladimir Putin announced.
"This is the first, essentially new plane, that Russia's aviation industry has produced in the past 21 years" President Putin said "I am confident that this plane will enjoy great demand here, and among our possible partners abroad."
The Russian President made the announcement while watching the modified IL-76 undergo flight tests at the Aviastar-SP aviation complex in Ulyanovsk. The plane completed a flight test that lasted approximately 15 minutes.
Although externally the modernized plane bears a close resemblance to its predecessor, the new plane boasts modernized wing-construction, the body has been reinforced, and the engines updated. The on-board communication and navigation systems have also been updated.
Russia's rearmament program envisages the purchase of 100 of these updated planes, currently two have been built - one for flight tests, and a spare.
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