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Ilyushin Il-76



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Aviation News incorporating Classic Aircraft October 2015

04/09/2015 16:29

The Ilyushin Il-76 has been the most important

transport aircraft in the Russian Air Force inventory
since the 1970s. New variants are being produced
of this robust airlifter that has also served as a tanker,
early warning platform and civilian freighter, among
other duties. Piotr Butowski examines the types career.

ergei Ilyushin and his team were

tasked in 1966 with designing
a transport aircraft capable of
carrying 72,753lb (33,000kg) over
3,107 miles (5,000km) when taking-off from
an unprepared runway. The US Lockheed
C-141A Starlifter significantly inspired
the design of the Il-76 and the prototype,
CCCP-86712, took-off on March 25, 1971
from Khodynka airfield in Moscow piloted
by Eduard Kuznetsov. Two months later the
aircraft appeared at the 29th Paris Air Show
at Le Bourget.
After two flying prototypes and a static
test airframe were made by the Ilyushin
facility in Moscow, production of the Il-76
started in 1973 in Tashkent. On May 8 that
year the first series production aircraft built in
Tashkent, Uzbekistan flew for the first time.
About 80 of the initial version were built.
In 1978 production switched to the Il-76M
(Modernised) version with a reinforced
structure and larger fuel tanks. The maximum
take-off weight was increased from 346,126lb

(157,000kg) to 374,786lb (170,000kg), while

the maximum load rose from 72,753lb
(33,000kg) to 105,822lb (48,000kg).
A civil derivative of the Il-76M, the Il76T (Transport), had military equipment
and the tail gun turret removed. With
these discarded, the payload increased to
110,231lb (50,000kg). In total about 170
Il-76M/T airframes were built until, in 1981,
the Tashkent factory switched production
to the military Il-76MD and civil Il-76TD
the D stands for Dalniy (long-range). The
wing structure was reinforced again, and
maximum take-off weight increased to
418,878lb (190,000kg) enabling more fuel for
the same payload (the fuel tanks have the
same volume). The range with a 44,092lb
(20,000kg) load rose from 4,039 miles
(6,500km) to 4,598 miles (7,400km). The
NATO reporting name is Candid-A for civil
versions and Candid-B for military ones.
The Il-76MD can carry up to 105,822lb
(48,000kg), while it can seat 167 troops
or 245 when the second deck is installed.

Alternatively, it can hold 126 paratroopers

who jump out of the back of the aircraft in
four rows, as well as via side doors on both
sides of the fuselage. Military equipment
can be dropped from high altitude, as well
as lower down. To allow operation from
austere runways, the Il-76 has a moderateswept wing with expanded high-lift devices.
The undercarriage consists of a four-wheel
bogie at the front while the main landing
gear is made up of two four-wheel bogies in
tandem, on either side of the fuselage.
The military version has a Kupol-3-76
flight-navigation system with KP-3A radar
in an under-nose radome, also used as a
sight when para-dropping. Some military
aircraft have SPO-10 Beryoza radar warning
receivers in large fairings on each side of
the nose as well as SPS-5 Fasol electronic
jammers. Some also carry chaff/flare
dispensers, including a 96-round 50mm
APP-50R launcher on each side of the
fuselage and/or two APP-50R launchers on
the undercarriage fairings. Most military
An Ilyushin Il-76MD-90A. This variant is
an updated version of the military Il-76MD
though does not have the tail gun turret. Anikeev 23


04/09/2015 16:50

Prototype Ilyushin
Il-76 CCCP-86712.
Piotr Butowski Collection

Iraqi Airways Ilyushin Il-76s were a common sight at Heathrow right up until the end of the
1980s. Blincow

aircraft and a few civil ones (that are exmilitary examples) have a rear gun turret with
two twin-barrel GSh-23 cannon and Krypton
radar sight. The Il-76 can take four 1,102lb
(500kg) flare bombs for illumination of a
landing area. For training purposes, small
110lb (50kg) P-50 practice bombs are used.
After the collapse of the USSR,
production continued for several years but
at a declining pace until it almost completely
ceased in 1995; only single airframes were
then completed from components made
earlier. The Tashkent factory made a total of
944 airframes; including 52 Il-78 tankers and
30 A-50/EI early warning aircraft.


The essential requirement for the Il-76MF

(F for Fuselage) version was making the
cargo hold longer by 21.6ft (6.6m), because
the aircraft was to be used as a launching
platform for the RSM-54 (Shtil-3A, SS-N23 Skiff) ballistic missile. The aircraft was
built despite the project to use the Il-76MF
as an airborne rocket launch system never
materialising. Eventually, only one prototype
(flown on August 1, 1995) and then two
production aircraft (delivered to Jordan in
2011) were produced.
Components developed for the Il-76MF,
including the 31,967lb st Aviadvigatel
PS-90A-76 turbofan and new avionics,
were applied later to modernised standardfuselage aircraft.

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The Russian Air Force ordered an

Il-76MD-90 mid-life upgrade with the PS90A-76 engines and new avionics, to be
carried out at the Voronezh factory. The first
upgraded aircraft, RA-78854, flew for the first
time on December 27, 2005. It remained
the only example of this version as further
upgrades were abandoned.
In 2003, Russias Volga-Dnepr Airlines
ordered a new Il-76TD-90 civilian version
powered by PS-90A-76s. This variant flew
for the first time on August 5, 2005. It can
fly 2,796 miles (4,500km) with a maximum
payload of 110,200lb (49,986kg), which is
435 miles (700) more than the Il-76TD with
its 26,455lb st Soloviev D-30KP-2 engines.
The new aircrafts noise level conforms to
ICAOs Chapter 4 requirements allowing

worldwide operation. Whereas Il-76s

with the D-30KP-2 do not and so are not
permitted to fly into Western Europe and the
US without special dispensation. The newer
engines are also more fuel efficient and
cheaper to maintain.
Moreover, the Il-76TD-90 is equipped
with modernized avionics developed by
Kotlin-Novator Company of St Petersburg,
including digital flight-navigation system
Kupol-3ME and multi-function displays; the
flight crew has been reduced from six to five.
Seven TD-90 aircraft were produced.


The Russian Government decided to

relocate the Il-76 final assembly line from
Uzbekistan to Russia on December 20,
2006. The Aviastar-SP factory at Ulyanovsk
was chosen to build the new Il-76MD90A (or Izdeliye 476) aircraft. The first
Il-76MD-90A, c/n 01-02, registration 78650,
performed its maiden flight on September
22, 2012 (c/n 01-01 is a static test airframe).
The Il-76MD-90A is a significantly
improved version and manufactured with
new tooling. The new wing retains the
previous shape but the outer part of it is now
a single spar as opposed to the previous
three sections. Take-off weight increased
to 210,000kg (462,971lb) and maximum
payload to 60,000kg (132,277lb). By using
the PS-90A-76 engine the Il-76MD-90A

Aeroflot had a massive fleet of Il-76s in the days of the Soviet Union, some being operated by
air force units despite their airline livery. This aircraft, like some others, has a more visible red
Aeroflot scheme for operations in the Arctic. Key Collection
Aviation News incorporating Classic Aircraft October 2015

04/09/2015 16:29

A Russian Air Force Ilyushin Il-78 Midas tanker

and Tupolev Tu-95MS-011 Bear. Piotr Butowski

has a range of 2,485 miles (4,000km)

with 132,277lb (60,000kg), or 4,039 miles
(6,500km) with 88,185lb (40,000kg) of
payload. Most of the aircrafts systems have
either been replaced or upgraded and the
crew has been reduced from seven to five.
However, the Il-76MD-90A retained the
main shortcoming of the Il-76: the cargo
hold is too narrow. According to Russian
data, about 35% of equipment used by an
infantry division does not fit in the Il-76. All
large military transport aircraft designed
throughout the world after the Il-76 (C-17A,
An-70, A400M and Y-20) have much broader
fuselages. By August this year the new
production line had produced five Il-76MD90As.
The first and, for now, only customer for
the new Il-76MD-90A is the Russian Ministry
of Defence, which has ordered 42 aircraft.
On October 4, 2012 the ministry signed
a contract for delivery of 39 Il-76MD-90A
transport aircraft between 2014 and 2018 at
a unit price of $110m. The other three aircraft
making up the total order are the prototype
and two airframes which are to be converted
by Beriev into special duty versions.
Together with new-production aircraft, the
Russian Air Force ordered a mid-life upgrade

of the present MD versions with the new

avionics from the Il-76MD-90A, but retaining
the current D-30KP2 engines. The first
upgraded aircraft, designated the Il-76MDM,
is expected to be delivered in early 2016.
According to the best available information
about 390 aircraft of all versions remain in

the aircraft was

to be used as a
launching platform
for the RSM-54
ballistic missile.
active service worldwide. The Russian Air
Force is the largest operator with about 140
aircraft (including approximately 15 Il-78s and
over 15 A-50s). Transport Il-76s are based
at Orenburg, Pskov, Seshcha, Taganrog and
Tver air bases, as well as the Ivanovo crew
conversion centre.
Other state users in Russia have about
20 aircraft, half with the Ministry of Interior.
Other air forces operating Il-76 family aircraft

are India (26, including six tanker and three

AEW versions), China (21, including the
KJ2000 early warning variant), Algeria (17
including one tanker), Iran (six), Ukraine
(five), Pakistan (four tankers), Angola (three),
Armenia (three) and Uzbekistan (three).
The largest civilian operators are Silk Way
Airlines (six) of Azerbaijan, Aviakon (six) in
Ukraine and Russian carriers Abakan Air
(five) and Volga-Dnepr Airlines (three).


Most Il-76s are used in the standard role

of medium and long-range military or civil
transports. However, many other variants
have been built as short-series versions
or single aircraft. Two medical evacuation
Il-76MD Skalpel-MT aircraft with medical
modules inserted into the cabin were used
during the war in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
Another airborne hospital variant, the Il76TD-S (S for sanitarnyi, medical), was built
in 1991. Several special aircraft including
the Il-76K, Il-76MDK and Il-76MDK-2 (K
for Kosmos, space) have been built for
cosmonaut training in simulated weightless
conditions. A search-and-rescue version, the
Il-76MD-PS (Poiskovo-Spasatelnyi, or Il-84)
was capable of patrolling for three hours

Jordan International Air Cargo Il-76MF JY-JIC. The aircraft also carries the Jordanian Air Force
serial 360. This variant is 21.6ft longer than the MD version it is derived from. Piotr Butowski

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04/09/2015 16:29

Russian Air Force A-50U Mainstay departs on a test flight from the TANTK facilities at Taganrog.

An Il-76 of Qeshim Air from Iran at Dubai. Key-Tony Dixon

at a distance of 1,864 miles (3,000km) from

base. A group of 40 rescue paratroopers
could be dropped as well as a large Gagara
motor boat and life rafts. Only one prototype
was made, which undertook its first flight on
December 18, 1984. A fire-fighting variant,
the Il-76P, carries two tanks capable of
holding 97,003lb (44,000kg) of retardant in
its cargo hold. Any Il-76 can be converted in
field conditions into the fire-fighting variant.
Several Il-76 aircraft have been used as
flying engine test beds. The test engine
is installed in place of the standard nearfuselage engine under the port wing leaving
the aerodynamic configuration of the

The cockpit of an Il-76TD-90 features the traditional turquoise panelling associated with Russian aircraft. This variant has two multifunction
displays, replacing older style dials, whereas the newer Il-76MD-90A has six.

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Aviation News incorporating Classic Aircraft October 2015

04/09/2015 16:29

Algeria is one of several nations operating the Il-76 in its air force. Key Collection

The Il-78M variant undertook its maiden

flight on March 7, 1987. It has reinforced
wings to enable a maximum take-off weight
of 462,971lb (210,000kg). It has larger
cabin fuel tanks (39,683lb/18,000kg each)
and the rear cargo doors are sealed,
reducing the structural weight. A dedicated
Indian derivative of the Il-78M, the Il-78MKI
(Konvertiruyemyi, convertible, for India) can
be reconfigured into a transport aircraft and
is fitted with Israeli fuel transfer systems.
Fifty-two tanker aircraft were made
including 32 standard Il-78s, 13 Il-78Ms,
one Il-78E for Algeria and six Il-78MKIs.
Ilyushin Il-78s are the only tankers used by
the Russian Air Force and are operated by
the 203rd Independent Tanker Air Regiment
at Ryazan-Diagilevo. In December 2008,
Ukraine sold four second-hand Il-78Ms
to Pakistan where they were given the
designation Il-78MP.
Russia is currently launching production
of a new Il-78M-90A (or Izdeliye 478) tanker
version in Ulyanovsk. With a take-off weight
of 485,017lb (220,000kg), the aircraft will be
able to carry 88,185lb (40,000kg) of fuel over
3,107 miles (5,000km). Russias National
Armament Program covers the purchase of
31 new tankers by 2020. In parallel, current
Il-78s and Il-78Ms are to be upgraded into
an Il-78M2 version.


Freight is unloaded from an Il-76s rear clamshell doors by USAF personnel at Ali Base, Iraq.
USAF/Tech Sgt Sabrina Johnson

aircraft intact. Two other aircraft are used

by the Gromov Flight Research Institute at
Zhukovsky for testing electronic equipment
such as side-looking radars.


Conversion of the Il-76 into a tanker is only

possible with the 190-tonne Il-76MD as the
limited take-off weight of the other models is

insufficient for refuelling other aircraft.

The prototype Il-78 tanker, CCCP-76556,
flew on June 26, 1983. The aircraft has two
cylindrical fuel tanks (30,865lb/14,000kg
each) inside the cargo hold and transfers the
fuel via two UPAZ refuelling pods under the
wings for tactical aircraft, or a single pod on
the port side of the rear fuselage for heavy

In 1973, the Soviet Government charged

Beriev in Taganrog with development of an
early warning aircraft based on the Il-76.
Beriev had no work at the time because of a
lack of orders for its traditional seaplanes, so
switched to producing special-duty aircraft
based on other-designers airframes. First
prototype of the A-50 (Izdeliye A) flew from
Taganrog on December 19, 1978. After
three prototypes, 24 series A-50s were made
between 1985 and 1993. More than 15
remain in the service with the only Russian
airborne early warning and control aircraft
unit, the 144th Independent Air Regiment
at Ivanovo. Several civil derivatives of the
A-50, designated Izdeliye 976, are used as

The Il-82 is a radio relay aircraft that is designed to work in tandem with the Il-80 (based on the Il-86) airborne command post.
The large canoe-shaped fairing above the cockpit houses an array of satellite communication aerials. Piotr Butowski

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04/09/2015 16:29

Russia developed the A-60 as a balloon interceptor. Trials of an upgraded version resumed in 2006
in a new role to blind infrared sensors on enemy reconnaissance satellites. Beriev via Piotr Butowski

The tail gun turret on an Il-76MD with the two twin-barrel GSh-23 cannon and Krypton radar
sight. Piotr Butowski

flight test control and data recording stations

by the Gromov Flight Research Institute at
The A-50 has an E-821 Shmel
(bumblebee, or Izdeliye R) mission system
built around an S-band radar fitted in a
rotating dome of 35.4ft (10.8m) diameter
carried above the fuselage on two
streamlined struts. The radars search range
is 143 miles (230km) for a fighter-size target
at low altitude, or 186-218 miles (300350km) at high altitude. The system can
track up to 45 targets simultaneously (15 for
each tracking operator) and up to 12 fighters
can be guided to targets simultaneously
(four targets for each guidance navigator).
Some A-50s have been upgraded to the
A-50U (Izdeliye AU) version with a Shmel-M
(Izdeliye RM) mission system featuring a
new computer system. The rotary antenna,
with its mechanical scanning remains
unchanged. According to reports, the

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modernised aircraft is capable of detecting

up to 150 targets at a distance of 373
miles (600km). There is only one external
difference between the former and new
version which is the absence of the side fins
near the main landing gear nacelles on the
A-50U on the A-50, these fins are intended
to protect the radar against signals reflected
from the ground.
The A-50U prototype, 37, successfully
accomplished state acceptance tests on
November 26, 2009. Three aircraft have
been upgraded and handed to the air force
and at present there is no further order.
Russia has offered the A-50 for export
on several occasions; however, the only
exports have been aircraft without Russian
radar equipment. India ordered the Israeli
ELW-2090 mission system to be fitted with
its aircraft, which are designated as A-50EIs.
The airframes were made by the plant in
Tashkent, then adapted for installation of

the mission systems by the Beriev facility in

Taganrog before being equipped by IAI and
ELTA in Israel. Three aircraft were made
for India between 2009 and 2011. Russia
expects a further order from India for two
more A-50EIs to be signed this year.
China was also offered the Israeli
Phalcon system. The contract was
cancelled in July 2000 under pressure
from the US. More recently, China fitted an
indigenous radar to an Il-76, which became
the prototype of the Chinese KJ2000 early
warning aircraft.
Airborne early warning versions of
the Il-76 were also produced in Iraq. Two
Il-76MDs, named Baghdad-1, used the
French Thomson-CSF Tigre radar which was
positioned on the lower part of the fuselage
below the tail. The Baghdad-1 aircraft
attained operational capability in 1988, later
joined by an improved version known as
Adnan-1 (initially named Baghdad-2). The
Adnan-1s radar is located in a rotating disc
above the fuselage. At least three Adnan-1
aircraft were built before Operation Desert
Storm started in January 1991; one of them
was damaged on an airfield while two others
escaped to Iran.
In May 2007, Beriev was charged by the
Russian Ministry of Defence with creating
a new A-100 (Izdeliye PM) AEW&C aircraft
using the Il-76MD-90A airframe and new
Premier mission system.
On November 21, 2014 the Ulyanovsk
facility handed over Il-76MD-90A, 78651 (s/n
01-03), to Taganrog for further conversion
into the A-100 prototype. According to the
contract, the state acceptance trials are to
be completed by November 2017.
Ilyushin Il-76s have also been fitted
with other special mission systems. In
the mid-1980s, Beriev built an Il-76PP
(Postanovshchik Pomekh, jammer) aircraft;
the programme ended with a single
prototype, CCCP-86889. Beriev has been
designing a similar airborne jammer based
on the Il-76MD-90A transport, known as
the A-90. The present status of the project
is unclear with reports suggesting the A-90
project has been abandoned in favour of a
Tupolev Tu-214PP.
Ilyushin also converted two Il-76s into
Il-82 (or 76-65s, or Izdeliye 9-A-9676) radio
Aviation News incorporating Classic Aircraft October 2015

04/09/2015 16:30

Ilyushin Il-76MDK, RF-75353, is used by

Roscosmos (the Russian Federal Space Agency)
for cosmonaut zero-g training. Piotr Butowski

A Peoples Liberation Army Air Force KJ2000 airborne early warning variant. AirTeamImages.

relay aircraft to operate alongside Il-80

airborne command posts (based on the
Il-86); Beriev is responsible for the aircrafts
further upgrades. The first Il-82 flew on
April 29, 1987. Both Il-82s are based at
Chkalovsky airfield outside Moscow together
with the four Il-80s. The most outstanding
feature of the Il-82s external appearance is
a large canoe-shaped fairing housing a set
of satellite communication aerials above the
forward fuselage. A trailing wire antenna
with stabilisation cone, used for very
low frequency radio communication with
submerged submarines, is released from
beneath the rear fuselage. It doesnt feature
the usual glazed nose of the Il-76 either.


Originally the Beriev A-60 (Izdeliye 1A) was

built as a balloon interceptor with a carbon
dioxide (CO2) laser gun made by the AlmazAntey company of Moscow. Between the
1950s up to 1984, NATO reconnaissance
balloons drifting at high altitudes were said
to be penetrating Soviet territory and existing
fighter aircraft and anti-aircraft missiles could
not be used effectively against them. The first
A-60 flew on August 19, 1981 with Yevgeniy
Lakhmostov at the controls. The aircraft had
a laser gun housed in the cargo hold and
a large mirror system to direct the laser ray
on to the target. The gun was able to shoot
for a total of 11 seconds over a range of 25
miles (40km). A Phazotron-NIIR Ladoga-3
targeting radar was fitted in a large bulbous
fairing in the aircrafts nose. On April 27, 1984

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the A-60 damaged a Soviet balloon acting as

a test target over the Volsk Aerostat Research
Centre. In 1988, the aircraft was destroyed
in a fire at Chkalovsky. The upgraded A-60/2
(Izdeliye 1A2) prototype first flew on August
29, 1991. Trials were suspended after two
years due to lack of funding.
The airborne combat laser project
resumed in 2003 as part of the new
Sokol-Echelon (Sokol translates as falcon)
research programme and with a new laser
gun made by Chemical Automatics Design
Bureau (KBKhA) of Voronezh. The purpose
of the system is to blind the infrared sensors
of enemy reconnaissance satellites. Flight
trials of the renewed 1A2 aircraft resumed
around 2006 and continued until 2009.

The final stage of the trials involved firing

the laser on August 28, 2009. Alexander
Ignatyev, the deputy designer general
of Almaz-Antey told Krasnaya Zvezda
(Red Star) newspaper on September 12,
2012 there was, targeting of the laser
beam from the 1A2 flying test bed at the
[Japanese] Ajisai satellite at an altitude of
1,500km (932 miles), the reflecting signal
was recorded.
After successfully completing the trials in
2009, and following further research work
by the Sokol-V programme, a new 1LK222
laser-gun system has been ordered from
Almaz-Antey with a new carbon monoxide
(CO) laser by KBKhA. According to
Almaz-Antey, the laser guns purpose is to
counteract infrared surveillance sensors
on the ground, the sea, in the air and in
space. The 1LK222 system is to be fitted to
an Il-76MD-90A transport aircraft creating
the A-60M, which is expected to become an
operational system.
The Ilyushin Il-76 has proved itself
to be an adaptable and resolute aircraft.
With production of the new Il-76MD-90A
variant now under way it is set to remain an
important part of the Russian Air Forces
inventory for the foreseeable future.

Volga-Dnepr Airlines Il-76TD-90 RA-76511 sparkles under the floodlights at Tokyo Haneda.

04/09/2015 16:30