Il-102 was presented by the development design office of Ilyushin in summer 1991, it pretty much resembled Il-40 serially produced since the 1950s. But it had another shape of fuselage nose, better surveillance, more powerful engines and weapons.
As opposed to Su-25, Il-102 has the second cockpit for a gunner. Probably this circumstance played the most negative role in the aircraft’s destiny. The design of Il-102 was the same as of Il-40, but it was an absolutely new vehicle in a retro style. There was thirty years between Il-102 and Il-40, for all those years aircraft building had changed considerably. There appeared new turbojet engines, construction materials, technologies. Equipment had changed even more – aircrafts became lighter, they started to fulfill more complicated tasks. Means of crew rescue became much better as well.
The construction of the main landing gear also changed, it could retract into the cowling to leave more space for weapons. Takeoff weight of the vehicle rose to 22 000 kg, its payload – to 7200 kg.
Crew cab was armored, engines and fuel supply system were armoured partially. Fuel tanks were deprived of armour but were placed in the central part of the fuselage where they were more safe. In its rear part the aircraft had a cannon mounting.
Il-102, as well as Il-40, had a mobile offensive cannon armament – a 30 mm gun could be fixed in two positions. Construction of the vehicle was finished early in 1982. Flight tests were conducted in the most “partisan” places – in Belarus. The first flight was performed in September 25, 1982.
In 1982-1984 there were conducted 250 flights in total and all of them were successful. The attack plane showed a high maneuverability, the best turning radius was equal to 400 m only.
In 1984 the attack plane flew to the airfield of Zhukovsky (Moscow region) where it was placed for storage in the hangar of the development Ilyushin design ofice. By that time attack aircrafts Su-25 were already serially produced, they were undoubtedly superior to Il-102.
There were attempts to revive the project of Il-102, but they had no financing first, and interest from the new government second. When the Soviet troopes started to leave Afghanistan Il-102 lost any hope for any prospects. It was given a chance to say goodby at the Moscow air show of 1992 when Il-102 became a star for a short time to become a thing of the past soon after.
Il-102 has a standard aerodynamic design and a low-mounted arrow wing. The construction of the vehicle has a high technological efficiency.
Its fuselage is of a semimonocoque type, there are pressurized cockpits of a pilot and a gunner in its central part, fuel tanks are between them. On both sides of the tail part of the fuselage are dive brakes of a comparatively small size.
In the cokpits are catapult seats K-36L which allow to escape from the aircraft at the height and zero speed. When the pilot escapes, he automatically catapults the gunner too.
The undercarriage enables the aircraft to be used on soft fields. The disassembled vehicle can be transported on two railway platforms or in a fuselage of Il-76. The experimental aircraft was not fully completed with all necessary equipment, it was supposed to be equipped with modern optoelectronic systems.
Guns of the aircraft:
– 1 × 30mm GSh-30-2 cannon externally mounted under fuselage;
– 1 × 23 mm GSh-23L cannon in remotely controlled tail turret;
Bombs: 7,200 kg (15,873 lb) external stores in six wing bomb bays and eight external pylons (six under the wing and two under the fuselage).
However Il-102 has some advatages as opposed to Su-25 – 1,5 times higher payload, higher speed, higher operating range. Its engines are more powerful, load on the wing is lower.
Besides, Su-25 was developed as a one-seat aircraft from the very beginning, but modern optoelectronic systems require two member of a crew.