Ruslan (Руслан) which translates to Russian, is the name given to one of the more interesting types which was the cause of much hype for Aviation Spotters at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport this week. The mighty Antonov AN-124 ‘Condor’ a type which is seen in may airports in Europe, as it is used to haul oversize and heavy freight from place to place.
Designed during the cold war by the Antonov design bureau in the Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union (USSR) the aircraft first flew on the 26 December 1982. A requirement by the USSR for a larger strategic transporter then the AN-22 Turboprop, the AN-124 entered service with in 1986 with the Air Force. Since then approximately 50 have been built since this date in several versions.
Powered by four 229.47 kN or 51,622 lb trust ZMDB D-18T turbofan engines, which allows the aircraft to reach a top speed of 800 km/h. The AN-124 has some noticeable claims to its name including a record achieved in July 1985, where an An-124 carried 171,219 kg (377,473 lb) of cargo to an altitude of 2,000 m (6,600 ft) and 170,000 kg to an altitude of 10,750 m (35,270 ft). The aircraft is able to haul 88 passengers on top of the cargo load, in a pressurized compartment in the top part of the aircraft. The lower deck isn’t pressurized.
The first production version was the afore mentioned AN-124 which was followed by the AN-124-100 commercial transport, the AN-124-100M-150 which has Western Avionics installed, the AN-124-150 with increased payload and the AN-124-300 which is a newer improved version for the Russian Air Force.
One of the aircraft unique features is the ability to kneel and lower the lower deck closer to the apron for quicker and easier loading.
Ruslan, UR-82007 is a 1986 build aircraft owned and operated by Antonov Design Bureau, the aircraft arrived into Tullamarine as flight no ADB2800 from Darwin. The aircraft was hauling two Rheinmetall 8×8 Boxer, Armoured Personnel Carrier’s. The two APC’s were being delivered to the Australian Army. The two APC’s will undergo testing and evaluation to find a replacement for the current ASLAV’s and M113 APC’s used by the Army.