Soviet Era Jet Parked at K.I. Sawyer

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KI SAWYER, Mich. (WLUC) - Mysteries surround a very large military aircraft parked at Sawyer Airport.

It appears to be an IL78 Soviet Era Fuel Transport Jet.

Airport staff says the plane landed for refueling over 8 years ago, but was not allowed to leave the country.

A private, unknown company out of Gibraltar is responsible for paying to keep the plane housed at Sawyer.

The aircraft has been maintained by Ukrainian aircraft mechanics, and the company is actively trying to sell the plane.

"The aircraft was originally slated as a mid-air refueling aircraft but since then, the company that was managing the aircraft de-militarized it," Sawyer Airport Manager Duane Duray said.

"Technically the aircraft is really just a cargo airplane right now."

The rent is paid up on storing the jet, the company has just requested it be stored outside now.

One reason it has not left the base is the Department of Defense considers it a weapon of war.

Another reason it has not been sold yet, is parts and mechanics trained on Russian equipment are challenging to find here.

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