The Ilyushin Il-76 (NATO reporting name: Candid) is a 4-engined strategic airlifter designed in the Soviet Union and in widespread use in Europe, Asia and Africa. Originally built for the military, the plane has subsequently seen extensive service as a commercial freighter, especially for the delivery of outsized or very heavy cargo. A water-carrying version of the plane has proven effective in fire-fighting operations in many countries. The Il-76 reportedly carries some 90% of ramp-delivered European airfreight and 90% of disaster relief aid worldwide. It is the most widely used dedicated jet freighter in the 40+ t. category.
Design and development
The aircraft was first conceived by Ilyushin
in 1967 to meet a requirement for a freighter able to carry a payload of 40 tons (88,000 lb) over a range of 5,000 km
(2,700 nautical miles
; 3,100 statute miles
) in less than six hours, able to operate from short and unprepared airstrips, and capable of coping with the worst weather conditions likely to be experienced in Siberia and the Soviet Union's Arctic regions. The Il-76's original design was influenced (at least in part) by the development of the US Lockheed C-141 Starlifter
. Differences in design included an observation/navigation nose, heavy duty landing gear, more powerful engines, slightly larger cargo hold and a defensive tail gun (military versions). It first flew on March 25
Production of Il-76s was placed in Tashkent, Uzbekistan (then a republic of the Soviet Union). Some 860 of basic transport variants were made. In 1990s modernized variants were developed (MF, TF), but were not produced in significant quantity due to financial problems of the major user, the Russian Air Force. The prototype of longer variant Il-76MF, with bigger capacity, first flew on 1 August 1995. The production ceased around 1997, and the factory since deteriorated. Some commercial aircraft were modernized to IL-76TD-90VD, starting from 2004, using new engines PS-90 to meet European noise limits. In 2005, China ordered in Russia 34 new Il-76MD's and 4 tankers Il-78, and the factory in Tashkent completed 16 incomplete airframes. Production of the IL-76 at a new factory in Ulyanovsk in Russia, in cooperation with Tashkent works, is under consideration.
First aircraft were delivered to the Soviet Air Force in June 1974. It next became main Soviet strategic transport aircraft. From 1976 it was operated by the Aeroflot lines.
Between 1979 and 1991, the Soviet Air Force Il-76s made 14,700 flights into Afghanistan, transporting 786,200 servicemen, and 315,800 tons of freight. The Il-76 carried 89% of Soviet troops and 74% of the freight that was airlifted. Building on that experience, the bulk of the Canadian Forces equipment into Afghanistan is flown in using civilian Il-76. As of 2006, the Russian Air Force had some 200 Il-76s, less than half airworthy, and civilian users in Russia have 108. As of 2004, there were 177 civilian Il-76s in Russia.
On August 29, 2005, the day before the levees of New Orleans gave way to the forces of Hurricane Katrina, the Russian Federation offered humanitarian aid to the United States. Two EMERCOM Il-76 aircraft landed at a disaster aid staging area at Little Rock, Arkansas September 8. This marks the first time Russia has flown such a mission to North America. A second Emergency Situations ministry Il-76 first-aid shipment, specially arranged with the U.S. leadership, departed Russia for Little Rock September 14.
India also used an Il-76 to deliver aid on September 13, 2005 for Katrina victims.
The Il-76 is also in use as an airborne tanker, otherwise known as a refueller (Il-78, some 50 were made), and a waterbomber. Its airframe was used as a base for the Beriev A-50 'Mainstay' AWACS aircraft (some 25 were made).
- Il-76D - ('D' for "Desantnyi", Десантный - "Paratrooper transport") has a gun turret in the tail for defensive purposes.
- Il-76M - Transport version.
- Il-76MD - Improved transport version.
- Il-76MD-90 - An Il-76MD with silenced and more economical Aviadvigatel PS-90 engines.
- Il-76MF - Stretched military version with 6.6m longer fuselage, PS-90 engines, maximum take-off mass 210 t and lift capability of 60 tonnes. First flew in 1995, not built in series so far.
- Il-76MKD - Zero-gravity training aircraft for Yuri Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Center.
- Il-76PP - Il-76MD-based radio jammer
- Il-78 - Inflight refuelling tanker version.
- Il-76 Falcon - For the Indian Air Force. Hosts Falcon radar for AWACS and Aviadvigatel PS-90 engines.
- Il-976 (SKIP) - (СКИП - Самолетный Контрольно-Измерительный Пункт, Airborne Check-Measure-and-Control Center) - Il-76/A-50 based Range Control and Missile tracking platform. Initially built to support Raduga Kh-55 cruise missile tests.
- Beriev A-50 - Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) version of Il-76
- Il-76T - ('T' for Transport, Транспортный) unarmed civil cargo transport version. NATO code-name Candid-A. It first flew on November 4, 1978.
- Il-76TD - The civil equivalent of the Il-76MD, first flew in 1982.
- Il-76TD-90VD - An Il-76TD with Aviadvigatel PS-90 engines and a partial glass cockpit.
- Il-76TF - Civil transport stretched version with Aviadvigatel PS-90 engines. It is the civil version of the Il-76MF (none produced).
- Il-76P - Firefighting aircraft. The Il-76 waterbomber is a VAP-2 1.5 hour install/removal tanking kit conversion. The Il-76 can carry up to 13,000 U.S. gallons (49,000 liters) of water; 3.5 times the capacity of the C-130 Hercules. Since this kit can be installed on any Il-76, the designation Il-76TP, Il-76TDP are also used when those versions of the Il-76 are converted into waterbombers. The Il-76P was first unveiled in 1990.
Domestic Chinese AWACS conversion of Il-76 after the setback of the A-50I.
The current KJ-2000 AWACS in Chinese service is equipped with a domestic Active Electronically Scanned Array active phased array radar system similar to the Swedish Ericsson's Erieye radar. The radar is designed by the Research Institute of Electronic Technology (also more commonly known as the 14th Institute) at Nanjing, and it utilizes the experience gained from the 14th Institute's earlier indigenously developed Type H/LJG-346 SAPARS (Shipborne Active Phased Array Radar System) that was completed in 1998 (the same Type H/LJG-346 SAPARS was also the predecessor of the active phased array radar system onboard PLAN Lanzhou class destroyer). Chinese claim that the domestic radar is superior to the Israeli radar and it can track more targets at greater range. The radar is arranged in the same way as that of A-50I.
CFTE Engine Testbed
China Flight Test Establishment (CFTE) currently operates a flying testbed converted from a Russian-made Il-76MD jet transport aircraft to serve as a flying testbed for future engine development programmes. The first engine to be tested on the aircraft is the WS-10A “Taihang” turbofan, currently being developed as the powerplant for China’s indigenous J-10 and J-11 fighter aircraft. The #76456 Il-76MD, acquired by the AVIC 1 from Russia in the 1990s, is currently based at CFTE’s flight test facility at Yanliang, Shaanxi Province.
Iraqi development with a radar mounted in the cargo hold, used in the Iran - Iraq war.
Iraqi development (with French assistance) with fibreglass
radome over the antenna of the Thomson-CSF
Tiger G surveillance radar with a maximum detection range of 189 nm (217.5 miles; 350 km). One was destroyed on the ground during the Gulf War
but two others (Adnan-1 and Adnan-2) were flown to Iran where they remained, although it is not know if they are operational.
Photos an Adnan 1 in Iranian service can be seen here
It can be easily distinguished from the Beriev A-50
by having the IL-76 navigator windows in the nose, which the A-50 does not.
Military and Civil operators in 38 countries have operated 850+ Il-76 in large numbers. While Russia is the largest military operator of the Il-76, followed by Ukraine and India, Belarus' TransAVIAexport Airlines is the largest civilian operator. In the list below, known current operators are listed in bold.
- The United Nations Humanitarian Air Service operated one Il-76 until February 2006.
- The Algerian Air Force operates 11 Il-76 aircraft, including 3 Il-76MD, 8 Il-76TD, and 7 Il-78 Midas.
- The Angolan Air Force operates one Il-76
- Gira Globo operates 1 Il-76.
- The Armenian Air Force operates 2 Il-76 aircraft.
- Dvin Airlines has operated an Il-76TD.
- Yerevan-Avia operates 1 Il-76.
- The Azerbaijan Air Force operates 3 Il-76 aircraft.
- Azal Avia Cargo operates 1 Il-76TD.
- Azerbaijan Airlines operates 1 Il-76M.
- Silk Way Airlines operates 9, including 1 Il-76MD and 7 Il-76TD and 1 Il-76TD-90.
- The Belarusian Air Force inherited a number of Il-76 aircraft from the Soviet Air Force. 4 in service.
- Belair operated the Il-76 before its closure in 1999.
- TransAVIAexport Airlines operates 1, including 5 Il-76MD and 18 Il-76TD.
- Gomelavia operates 5 Il-76TD.
- Faso Airways operates a single Il-76TD.
- Centrafrican Airlines
- Imtrec Aviation has operated a Laotian registered Il-76.
- The People's Liberation Army Air Force operates 17 Il-76 aircraft, including 3 KJ-2000 AWACS versions and some Il-78 tankers, with a further 30 due for delivery.
- China United Airlines has operated the Il-76, but does not currently.
- The Republic of the Congo operates an Il-76.
- Cubana de Aviación operates 1 Il-76MD.
- Air Congo has operated the Il-76.
- Ecuatorial Cargo operates 1 Il-76TD.
- Express International Cargo
- Atlant Hungary has operated the Il-76.
- Hungarian Ukrainian Air Cargo has operated the Il-76
- The Indian Air Force operates 32 Il-76MD, 6 Il-78MKI aircraft and 3 others with Israeli Phalcon radars for AWACS. Mostly for transporting ration in high altitude regions in Jammu and Kashmir and Siachen region
- The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force operates 6 Il-76s, including some modified to carry AWACS radar.
- The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Air Force operates 2 Il-76s.
- Atlas Air has operated at least 8 Il-76TD.
- Chabahar Air has operated at least 2 Il-76TD.
- Mahan Air has operated the Il-76.
- Payam Air operated 2 Il-76TD.
- Qeshm Air operates 2 Il-76TD.
- Safiran Airlines is a former operator.
- The Iraqi Air Force operated the Il-76, but none remain in service.
- Iraqi Airways operates a single Il-76.
- The Government of Kazakhstan operates 1 Il-76.
- Air Almaty operates an Il-76TD for leased operations.
- Air Kazakhstan operated Il-76 aircraft until its closure in 2004.
- GST Aero operates 1 Il-76T.
- Kazakhstan Airlines operated the Il-76TD before its closure in 1997.
- Sayakhat Airlines operated the Il-76 previously.
- Botir Avia operates 3, including 1 Il-76MD and 2 Il-76TD.
- Kyrgyzstan Airlines operates 1 Il-76TD.
- Reem Air – Lao People's Democratic Republic
- Imtrec aviation of Cambodia operates Laos registered Il-76TD.
- Inversija operates 3, including 2 Il-76T and 1 Il-76TD.
- – Lao People's Democratic Republic
- Imtrec aviation of Cambodia operates Laos registered Il-76TD.
- The Libyan Air Force has operated the Il-76 although it may not remain in service.
- Jamahiria Air Transport operates the Il-76M, Il-76TD, and Il-78.
- Libyan Air Cargo, the cargo division of Libyan Arab Airlines, operates 21, including 1 Il-76M and 15 Il-76TD.
- Transafrica Airlines
- Aerocom operated an Il-76MD as well as an Il-76T until as late as January 2005.
- Airline Transport operated a number of Il-76 aircraft, losing 3 in accidents in 2004 and 2005.
- Jet Line International operates the Il-76
- North Korean Air Force
- Air Koryo
- The Russian Air Force inherited large numbers of the aircraft from the Soviet Air Force in 1991, and 210 currently remain in service.
- The Ministry of Emergency Situations operates an Il-76TD.
- Abakan Avia operates 3 Il-76TD.
- Aeroflot operated large numbers of aircraft, especially during Soviet years, often on behalf of the Soviet military. However, none remain in service with the airline.
- Air STAN operated an Il-76TD.
- Airlines 400 operates 2 Il-76TD.
- Airstars Airways operates 4 Il-76TD on cargo services.
- ALAK operated Il-76 aircraft before its closure in 1999.
- Alrosa-Avia operates 4 Il-76TD on charter services.
- Aram Air
- Atlant-Soyuz Airlines operates 6, including 2 Il-76MD and 4 Il-76TD.
- ATRAN Cargo Airlines operates 5, including 3 Il-76T and 2 Il-76TD. At least one Il-76M may have been operated in the past.
- Atruvera Aviation operates 3, including 1 Il-76MD and 2 Il-76TD.
- Aviacon Zitotrans operates 5, including 4 Il-76TD.
- Aviaenergo operated the aircraft, but none remain in service.
- Aviast operates 4, including 1 Il-76MD and 3 Il-76TD.
- Continental Airways has operated the Il-76 in the past, but does not do so currently.
- Dacono Air has operated the Il-76.
- Dobrolet Airlines operates 3 Il-76TD.
- Domededovo Airlines has operated the Il-76, but none is currently in service.
- East Line operates the Il-76.
- Ilavia Airline operates 6, including 2 Il-76MD and 4 Il-76TD.
- KrasAir operated the Il-76, but none is currently in service.
- Krylo Airlines operated 2 Il-76TD into 2005.
- Magadan Avia Leasing is a lease and charter operator of the Il-76.
- Moscow Airways operated an Il-76TD in the early 1990s.
- Novosibirsk Air Enterprise operated the Il-76, but none is currently in service.
- Pulkovo Aviation Enterprise operated the Il-76, but none is currently in service.
- Samara Airlines operates 2 Il-76TD.
- Tesis Aviation Enterprise operates 9 Il-76TD.
- Tyumen Airlines
- Volga-Dnepr operates 7 Il-76TD and 2 Il-76TD-90VD.
- An unknown operator operates one Il-76TD registered S9-DBR
- Air Tomisko operates a single Il-76TD.
- Kosmas Air operates a single Il-76TD.
- Aerolift Sierra Leone operates Il-76 aircraft for special charter and cargo lift operations.
- The Soviet Air Force operated hundreds of the aircraft, with an inventory of 310 in 1987. Most were dispersed to the successor states upon the breakup of the Soviet Union.
- Aeroflot was the main civil user of the aircraft during the period of the Soviet Union, although many of its aircraft were operated on behalf of the military.
- Jet Air Cargo was one of the first civil operators of the Il-76 in Russia other than Aeroflot.
- Air West operated a small number of aircraft, although it is unclear how many remain in service.
- Azza Transport operates 2 Il-76TD.
- East West Cargo operated a number of Il-76 aircraft.
- Juba Cargo operates the Il-76
- Badr Airlines operates 1 Il-76,}
- Trans Attico
- The Syrian Air Force operates the Il-76.
- Syrian Arab Airlines operates 4, including 3 Il-76M.
- Turkmenistan Airlines operates 8 Il-76TD.
- The Ukrainian Air Force inherited a large number of Il-76 aircraft from the Soviet Air Force, with as many as 100 remaining in service.
- Air Service Ukraine operated the Il-76MD.
- Air Ukraine and Air Ukraine Cargo operated the aircraft, although none were in service at the time of bankruptcy.
- ATI Aircompany operates a number of Il-76 models.
- Azov Avia Airlines operates 2 Il-76MD.
- BSL Airline operated as many as 6 Il-78.
- Busol Airlines operated the Il-76 before its closure in 1998.
- Khors Aircompany operates 2 Il-76MD.
- Lviv Airlines operates 3 Il-76MD.
- South Airlines is a former operator.
- Ukraine Air Alliance operates 4, including 1 Il-76MD and 3 Il-76TD.
- Ukrainian Cargo Airways operates 21, including 19 Il-76MD.
- Veteran Airlines
- Volare Airlines operates 3, including 2 Il-76MD and 1 Il-76TD.
- Yuzhmashavia operates 2 Il-76TD.
- Air Support Systems, LLC operates the IL-76/78 in fire fighting duties in the USA.
- Gulf Aviation Technology and Services operates a number of Il-76 aircraft on charter or lease.
- Phoenix Aviation operates 2 Il-76TD.
- Avialeasing operates the Il-76 on a charter and lease basis.
- Uzbekistan Airways operates 14 Il-76TD.
- The Yemen Air Force operates 3 Il-76 aircraft.
- Yemenia operates 2 Il-76TD.
- Avient Aviation operates 1 Il-76.
Incidents and accidents
- On August 19 1996, Il-76T Spair Airlines Flight PAR-3601, crashed and exploded while trying to land at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport killing all 12 crew members
- On November 12 1996, Kazakhstan Airlines Flight 1907, an Il-76, had a mid-air collision over India with a Boeing 747, resulting in the loss of all 349 lives aboard both aircraft.
- On November 11 2005, A Royal Airlines Cargo Il-76MD, s/n 0053464926, crashed into a hill 30 km NW of Kabul, Afghanistan.
- On March 9 2007, a Transaviaexport Il-76TD s/n 1003499991, registered EW-78826, on approach at Mogadishu, Somalia, was hit by a projectile, which was later confirmed to be a RPG by Belarus officials. The aircraft landed safely but sustained substantial damage.
- On March 23 2007, a Transaviaexport Il-76 was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile while taking off from Mogadishu, Somalia.
- On June 30 2008, an Ilyushin Il-76 exploded into a fireball on take-off from Khartoum International Airport in Sudan. All 4 crew were killed.