Aircraft

Is Russia working on a crazy supersonic cargo plane?

Is Russia working on a crazy s...
The heavy transport craft concept, dubbed the PAK TA, could fly at supersonic speeds of up to 2,000 km/h (Image: Aleksey Komarov)
The heavy transport craft concept, dubbed the PAK TA, could fly at supersonic speeds of up to 2,000 km/h (Image: Aleksey Komarov)
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The PAK TA is reportedly Russia's new super cargo transport project (Image: Aleksey Komarov)
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The PAK TA is reportedly Russia's new super cargo transport project (Image: Aleksey Komarov)
Sources claim the PAK TA could reach 2,000 km/h (Image: Aleksey Komarov)
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Sources claim the PAK TA could reach 2,000 km/h (Image: Aleksey Komarov)
Some 80 of the craft may be built by 2024 (Image: Aleksey Komarov)
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Some 80 of the craft may be built by 2024 (Image: Aleksey Komarov)
The heavy transport craft concept, dubbed the PAK TA, could fly at supersonic speeds of up to 2,000 km/h (Image: Aleksey Komarov)
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The heavy transport craft concept, dubbed the PAK TA, could fly at supersonic speeds of up to 2,000 km/h (Image: Aleksey Komarov)
The craft may have a 7,000 km range (Image: Aleksey Komarov)
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The craft may have a 7,000 km range (Image: Aleksey Komarov)
The concept calls for a payload capacity of 200 tons (Image: Aleksey Komarov)
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The concept calls for a payload capacity of 200 tons (Image: Aleksey Komarov)
The concept calls for a payload capacity of 200 tons (Image: Aleksey Komarov)
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The concept calls for a payload capacity of 200 tons (Image: Aleksey Komarov)
The concept calls for a full payload capacity of 200 tons (Image: Aleksey Komarov)
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The concept calls for a full payload capacity of 200 tons (Image: Aleksey Komarov)

A state-run Russian news site is reporting that the country has ambitions to build a huge, supersonic cargo plane capable of transporting tanks to the field in a matter of hours. While there's plenty of reason to be skeptical that transporting such heavy loads at high speeds is even feasible, let alone realistic, Russia's military is reportedly giving itself roughly the next decade to figure it out.

Russia's RT reports that the heavy transport craft, dubbed the PAK TA (Perspective Airborne Complex of Transport Aviation), could fly at supersonic speeds of up to 2,000 km/h (1,243 mph), carry up to 200 tons (181 tonnes) and have a range of 7,000 km (4,350 mi). The program could call for the construction of a fleet of 80 of the new craft to be built by 2024, giving the Russian military the capability to deliver 400 Armata heavy tanks or 900 more lightly armored vehicles to a battlefield in quick fashion.

The specs are sourced to an apparent anonymous leaker who claims to have attended a closed-door meeting with Russian military leaders and passed on details to the Russian language site, Expert Online.

According to the website Russian Aviation, Ilyushin Aviation Complex – an aircraft engineering outfit dating back to the early years of the Soviet Union – is handling the project. CEO Viktor Livanov is quoted as saying "Today it is just a project that may be implemented by 2030." He added that the exact specifications are still subject to negotiations and that the Russian Ministry of Defense is just one of several potential customers.

Whatever the real status of the PAK TA is at the moment and whatever their reasons, someone certainly seems to want the wider world to know that such an ambitious concept is being discussed.

The concept calls for a payload capacity of 200 tons (Image: Aleksey Komarov)
The concept calls for a payload capacity of 200 tons (Image: Aleksey Komarov)

Among the reasons for skepticism is the fact that the purported specs involve more than doubling the speed of most military transport craft up to this point in history, and doing so while carrying an unprecedented payload – save perhaps for another Russian giant, the Antonov An-225, that once carried a 250-ton (227-tonne) load.

Presumably, the costs of design, construction and fuel for such a craft would also be pretty ridiculous at a time when Russia's economy is getting hammered. But it's never wise to totally rain on a propaganda parade. Anything is possible, even if not very practical.

The concept video below, from Aleksey Komarov, Customer and Technical Manager at the Volga-Dnepr Group, shows what the future of heavy transport could look like.

Sources: RT, Expert Online, Russian Aviation

Diplom - Alexey Komarov

40 comments
David Finney
Shenanigans!
blueskydreamer
The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters. The video looks like graduate project of some talented 3D-art student ("diplom" mean "graduate project" in Russian). Nothing is possible here. Russia has no long runways for such monsters. The only long enough runway there is a 4500 meters long "Site 251," built for project Buran, but it located in Kazakhstan. Also, I doubt this wings will survive breaking sonic barrier. The plane chassis also does not looks capable for 200 tonnes load. Remembering the Russia Today channel is only a tool of the anti-American propaganda, this news is only a fruit of the inflamed imagination.
BeWalt
Well in the western world these kinds of shenanigans are called start-up companies, showing shiny renderings to hunt for investors. When Boeing releases sketches like this, people marvel at them. And they have in the past, both Boeing and Airbus. Engineers like to dream. Let 'em! Russia has awesome aviation and space engineers, but Poo-tin has to raise flags in parts of the world where he shouldn't and does not give a crap about his own people, and their potential. I feel their pain.
esthero
I think you commentators are in a large part correct with your opinions but I also know Russia has a lot of experience in making very large aircraft and very fast aircraft. They have developed such aircraft countless times before and at least 1 is still flying today. The largest cargo plane in the world. I am no Russia/Putin fan either but Russia has proven many times that they have at least the courage to try outrageous ideas and sometimes they succeed. I believe in Russia it is less about economics or feasibility, in Russia they just build it and if it crashes, they build another one and only after so many crashes they stop the project and conclude it cannot be done. This is oversimplified but basically how Russians design and develop aircraft and spacecraft.
JPAR
If you question the Russians ability to develop radical aircraft, perhaps you should youtube "Caspian Sea Monster"........
owlbeyou
Russia has a long history in aviation and space travel. I have little doubt of their capabilities. Their practical nature also means that they can build at a fraction of the cost of what Boeing and others can. Even if it is a "fruit of an inflamed imagination", this is what makes the possible into reality. This is a cool-looking machine that has a stealthy air to its design. If there are few runways to deploy it in, then how does the Antonov-225 manage? Besides, it doesn't take that much to build extra-long runways. If any of you believe that Vladimir Putin doesn't care about the Russian people, you've been hoodwinked by American propaganda, and there's lots more of that.
Stuart Wilshaw
Not as far fetched as some people like to imagine. The supersonic speed is questionable but this design has similarities with one of my flying wing designs that was capable of operating in the transonic range. You would not have a problem with runway length at the base end; that's a purely civil engineering problem, you need it, you build it. The field delivery would pose problems, parachuting 100+ tonne loads doesn't appear sensible especially if it lands on your own forces. Hey ho, back to the drawing board!
Michael Flower
Doable Technology, but who's going to fund if. Can't see Vlad "The Mad" Putin, doing it. He rather Rob the Treasury, than Fund Anything...
the.other.will
Any member of the russkaya mafiya will testify that Putin cares deeply about the Russian people, owlbeyou.
Griffin
@JPAR The Caspian Sea Monster wasn't an "aircraft"- it was a ground effect vehicle, an "ekranoplan". It was never feasible for actual service. In many ways it was like Howard Hughes' "Spruce Goose"- it came, it was seen and it was put aside. The difference was that the actual name of Hughes' craft was given to the most successful military cargo design ever produced- the C-130 "Hercules".