Ilyushin Il-76

The Ilyushin Il-76 (Russian: Илью́шин Ил-76; NATO reporting name: Candid) is a multi-purpose four-engine turbofan strategic airlifter designed by the Soviet Union's Ilyushin design bureau. It was first planned as a commercial freighter in 1967, as a replacement for the Antonov An-12. It was designed to deliver heavy machinery to remote, poorly served areas. Military versions of the Il-76 have been widely used in Europe, Asia and Africa, including use as an aerial refueling tanker or command center.

A Russian Air Force Il-76MD
Role Strategic and tactical airlifter
National origin Soviet Union / Russia
Design group Ilyushin
Built by Tashkent Aviation Production Association
First flight 25 March 1971
Introduction June 1974[1]
Status In production, in service
Primary users Russian Air Force
Ukrainian Air Force
Indian Air Force[2]
Libyan Air Force[3]
Number built 960+[4]
Variants Ilyushin Il-78
Beriev A-50

The Il-76 has seen extensive service as a commercial freighter for ramp-delivered cargo, especially for outsized or heavy items unable to be otherwise carried. It has also been used as an emergency response transport for civilian evacuations as well as for humanitarian aid and disaster relief around the world. Because of its ability to operate from unpaved runways, it has been useful in undeveloped areas. Specialized models have also been produced for aerial firefighting and zero-G training.

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 nmi; 3,100 mi) 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. It was intended to replace the Antonov An-12. Another intended version was a double-decked 250-passenger airliner but that project was cancelled. The Il-76 first flew in March 1971 (1971-03).[5]

Production of Il-76s was allocated to the Tashkent Aviation Production Association in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, then a republic of the Soviet Union. Some 860 of the basic transport variants were manufactured.[6] In the 1990s, modernized variants also equipped with Soloviev D-30 turbofan engines[7] were developed (MF, TF), with a cargo compartment 20 m (66 ft) long by 3.4 m (11 ft) wide by 3.4 m (11 ft) tall; these larger variants were not produced in significant quantity due to the financial difficulties being experienced by the Russian Air Force, which was the primary operator of the type. The prototype of the Il-76MF, conducted its first flight on 1 August 1995.

Further development

From 2004 onwards, a number of aircraft in commercial service were modernized to the Il-76TD-90VD version; this involved the adoption of the newly developed PS-90 engine to comply with European noise limitations.[1] In 2005, the People's Republic of China placed an order for 34 new Il-76MDs and four Il-78 tankers. In June 2013, Russian military export agency Rosoboronexport announced an order by China for 12 Il-76MD aircraft.[8]

The Il-76 has also been modified into an airborne refuelling tanker, designated the Il-78, around 50 aircraft having been produced.[6] A variant of the Il-76 also serves as a firefighting waterbomber. Its airframe was used as a base for the Beriev A-50 'Mainstay' AEW&C (airborne early warning and control) aircraft; around 25 aircraft were made.[6] Another application for the type was found in Antarctic support flights and for conducting simulated weightlessness training for cosmonauts (akin to the "Vomit Comet" used by NASA).[9] Beriev and NPO Almaz also developed an airborne laser flying laboratory designated A-60, of which two were built, much of this project's details remaining classified.[10]


It was announced in 2010 that the production of a modernized Il-76, the Il-76MD-90A (also known as project Il-476 during the design stage), would begin; a proposed new production line would be located in Aviastar's facility in Ulyanovsk, Russia, and be operated in cooperation with the Tashkent works.[6] At that point, the construction of two Il-76MD-90A prototypes had begun at the Ulyanovsk facility.[11] The 1st Il-76MD-90A was rolled out at Aviastar's Ulyanovsk plant on 16 June 2014.[12] On 29 April 2015, it was reported that the Russian Air Force received the first Il-76MD-90A built at the Ulyanovsk plant "Aviastar-SP" from the 2012 contract for 39 aircraft.[13][14] The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) received its first serial production Ilyushin Il-76MD-90A airlifter on 2 April 2019.[15]

Operational history

First aircraft were delivered to the Soviet Air Force in June 1974.[1] Next it became the main Soviet strategic transport aircraft. From 1976 it was operated by Aeroflot.

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. As Afghan rebels were unable to shoot down high-flying Il-76s, their tactics were to try and damage it on takeoff or landing. Il-76s were often hit by shoulder-launched Stinger and Strela heat-seeking missiles and large-calibre machine gun fire, but because the strong airframes were able to take substantial damage and still remain operational, the aircraft had a remarkably low attrition rate during this period of conflict. Building on that experience, the bulk of the Canadian Forces equipment into Afghanistan was flown in using civilian Il-76s.[16] In 2006, the Russian Air Force had about 200 Il-76s. Civilian users in Russia have 108.[6]

On August 3, 1995, an Il-76 piloted by a Russian crew was forced down by a Taliban fighter plane sparking the Airstan incident.

In 2004, a Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Il-76 carried out a flight mission in Afghanistan, and later in 2011, PLAAF Il-76s were sent to Libya to evacuate Chinese citizens. The two missions were the reported first steps of PLAAF developing long-range transportation capability.[17]

On 23 March 2007, a Transaviaexport Il-76 was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile while taking off from Mogadishu, Somalia. Everybody on board, seven crew and four passengers, was killed.[18]

Syrian Air Force Il-76s, operating as civil Syrianair aircraft, have been reportedly used to ship weapons, money, and other cargo from Russia and Iran to Syria, according to a defected Syrian military pilot. Since the start of the war, in April 2011 (and up to July 2012), around 20 military flights have been conducted to and from Tehran, via Iraqi airspace. Further information exposes that since around 2012, Syrian Il-76s have regularly flown to Moscow's Vnukovo Airport to fetch shipments of Syrian banknotes that have been useful to Bashar al-Assad's government to survive Western sanctions.[19][20][21]

On 14 June 2014, a Ukrainian Air Force Il-76 was shot down by ground fire from pro-Russian separatists while on approach to landing at Luhansk, resulting in the deaths of 40 soldiers and nine crew members on board.[22][23][24][25]

On 30 January 2017, an IL-76 firebomber of the Russian EMERCOM agency was deployed to Chile to assist firefighters. This assignment took 39 days.[26]

All Il-76 transport aircraft in service with the RF Aerospace Forces will receive anti-missile systems. The aircraft reconfiguration started in the spring of 2019.[27]


Prototypes and developmental variants

Il-76TD-90 / Il-76MD-90
Engine upgrades to Perm PS-90s.
Il-76 firebomber
Firefighting aircraft to drop exploding capsules filled with fire retardant.
SAR version of Il-76MF
Early development of convertible passenger/cargo aircraft, (project only, designation re-used later)
proposed Beriev A-50 with Perm PS-90 engines.
Beriev A-60
Airborne laser weapon testbed. (Il-76 version 1A)

Special purpose / research variants

with reinforced wing (at least 3 aircraft) to be used as test-bed aeroplane for engine prototypes flight testing in Gromov Flight Research Institute.
prototype Il-76PP.
Telemetry and communications relay aircraft, for use during trial programmes (prototype).
Telemetry and communications relay aircraft, for use during trial programmes (prototype).
Izdeliye-976 ("SKIP")[28] – (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.
Special mission aircraft for unknown duties.
ELINT electronic intelligence aircraft, or Il-76-11

Military variants

Il-76-Tu160 tailplane transporter
One-off temporary conversion to support Tu-160 emergency modification programme.
('D' for "Desantnyi", Десантный – "Paratrooper transport") has a gun turret in the tail for defensive purposes.
Zero-g cosmonaut trainer (dlya podgotovki kosmonavtov), for Yuri Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Center.
Engine testbed, (ooniversahl'naya letayuschchaya laboratoriya).
Military transport version, (modifitseerovannyy – modified).
Improved military transport version, (modifitseerovannyy Dahl'ny – modified, long-range).
Il-76MD Skal'pel-MT
Mobile Hospital
Il-76M / Il-76MD
Built without military equipment but designated as Ms and MDs (Gordon – 'Falsies')
An Il-76MD with quieter and more economical Aviadvigatel PS-90 high-bypass turbofan engines.
Stretched military version with a 6.6 m longer fuselage, PS-90 engines, maximum takeoff weight of 210 tonnes and a lift capability of 60 tonnes. First flew in 1995, not built in series so far,[1] just built for Jordan.
ECM aircraft, major problems with ECM equipment on the Izdeliye-176 only.
Modernized Il-76MD for the Russian Air Force.[29][30][31]
An upgraded version with a new glass cockpit, upgraded avionics, new internal wing structure and Aviadvigatel PS-90 engines. It was also known as Il-476 while in development.[12][32]
Built as military aircraft but given civilian designations. (Gordon – 'Falsie')
Ilyushin Il-78/Il-78M/Il-78MD-90A
Aerial refuelling tanker.
Il-78 MKI
A customized version of the Il-78 developed for the Indian Air Force.
Airborne Command Post/communications relay aircraft, (alternative designation – Il-76VKP-'version65S').
Maritime Search and Rescue aircraft, (alternative designation – Il-76PS-poiskovo-spasahtel'nyy), not produced.
Beriev A-50/Beriev A-50M/Beriev A-50I/Beriev A-50E
Airborne Early Warning & Control aircraft. Beriev given control over the program.
Beriev A-100
An AEW&C version of the Il-76MD-90A.

Civil variants

Initial Commercial freighter. (two prototypes and 12 production) equipped with Soloviev D-30 Turbofan engines.[33]
Il-76MD to Il-76TD conversions
Complete removal of military equipment, identified by crude cover over OBIGGS inlet in Starboard Sponson.
Il-76P / Il-76TP / Il-76TDP / Il-76MDP
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.
('T' for Transport, Транспортный) unarmed civil cargo transport version. NATO code-name "Candid-A". It first flew on November 4, 1978.
The civil equivalent of the Il-76MD, first flew in 1982, equipped with Soloviev D-30 Turbofan engines.[33]
An Il-76TD with Aviadvigatel PS-90 engines and a partial glass cockpit. It was developed specially for Volga-Dnepr cargo company, which operates four aircraft as of 2012.
Civilian mobile Hospital, similar to Il-76MD Skal'pel-MT.
Civil transport stretched version with Aviadvigatel PS-90 engines. It is the civil version of the Il-76MF (none produced).

Foreign variants

Beriev A-50E/I
For the Indian Air Force. Hosts Israeli Phalcon radar for AEW&C and Aviadvigatel PS-90 engines.[34]
Il-76MD tanker
Iraqi Air Force tanker conversions.
Domestic Chinese airborne early warning and control conversion of Il-76, developed after A-50I was cancelled and currently in service with the armed forces of China.
CFTE engine testbed
The 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. Il-76MD #76456, 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 enabling it to serve as AEW&C, used in the Iran–Iraq War.
Iraqi development (with French assistance) with fibreglass-reinforced plastic radome over the antenna of the Thomson-CSF Tiger G surveillance radar with a maximum detection range of 350 km (189 nmi, 217.5 mi). One was destroyed on the ground during the 1991 Persian Gulf War; two others were flown to Iran where they remained.[35] At least one went into service with the IRIAF. One aircraft crashed following a midair collision with a HESA Saeqeh fighter, during the annual Iranian military parade in Teheran.[36] It can be 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.

  • The Algerian Air Force operates 17 Il-76 aircraft, including three Il-76MD, eight Il-76TD, and six Il-78 Midas.
  • Global Aviation Services[41]
 Burkina Faso
  • Imtrec Aviation has operated a Laotian registered Il-76.
  • The People's Liberation Army Air Force operates 17 Il-76 aircraft, including three kJ-2000 AEW&C versions and some Il-78 tankers, with a further 30 due for delivery. However, the deal for new IL-476 is canceled, instead China received ten refurbished IL-76 from Russia and developed its own transport the Xian Y-20.[42][43]
 Democratic Republic of the Congo
 Republic of the Congo
  • The Republic of the Congo operates an Il-76.
  • Cubana used to operate two Il-76s.
 Equatorial Guinea
  • Ecuatorial Cargo operates one Il-76TD.
  • Express International Cargo
  • Sun Way has operated the Il-76TD.
  • Atlant Hungary has operated the Il-76.
  • Hungarian Ukrainian Air Cargo has operated the Il-76.
  • Imtrec aviation of Cambodia operates Laos registered Il-76TD.
  • Inversija operated three, including two Il-76T and one 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 three in accidents in 2004 and 2005.
  • Jet Line International operates the Il-76[49]
  • Tiramavia
 North Korea
  • Air Tomisko operated 3 Il-76TD. Two were leased from GST Aero which had been before in service of Kosmas Air, and one more was added in May 2006.[53]
  • Kosmas Air operated two Il-76TD leased from GST Aero.[53]
 Sierra Leone
  • Aerolift Sierra Leone operates Il-76 aircraft for special charter and cargo lift operations.[54]
 Soviet Union
  • 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 two Il-76TD.
  • East West Cargo operated a number of Il-76 aircraft.
  • Juba Cargo operates the Il-76.[55]
  • Badr Airlines operates two Il-76,
  • Trans Attico
  • Alfa Airlines
  • Green Flag Airlines
  • 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 two Il-76MD.
  • BSL Airline operated as many as six Il-78.
  • Busol Airlines operated the Il-76 before its closure in 1998.
  • Khors Aircompany operates two Il-76MD.
  • Lviv Airlines operates three Il-76MD.
  • South Airlines is a former operator.
  • Ukraine Air Alliance operates four, including one Il-76MD and three Il-76TD.
  • Ukrainian Cargo Airways operates 21, including 19 Il-76MD.
  • Veteran Airlines
  • Volare Airlines operates three, including two Il-76MD and one Il-76TD.
  • Yuzhmashavia operates 2 Il-76TD.
 United Nations
 United States
  • Air Support Systems, LLC operates the Il-76/78 in fire fighting duties in the USA.
 United Arab Emirates
  • Gulf Aviation Technology and Services operates a number of Il-76 aircraft on charter or lease.
  • Phoenix Aviation operates 2 Il-76TD.


As of April 2018 a total of 80 Il-76 series aircraft have been written off in crashes and other incidents,[56] including the following:

  • On 23 November 1979, a Soviet Air Force Il-76, registration CCCP-86714, banked left during an approach to Vitebsk Airport. Control of the aircraft was lost and the aircraft crashed, killing the crew of seven; this was the first loss of an Il-76.[57]
  • On 11 December 1988, an Aeroflot Il-76 crashed on approach to Leninakan, Armenia killing 77 of the 78 on board. The aircraft was on an air relief operation following the 1988 Armenian earthquake.[58]
  • On 1 February 1990, a Soviet Air Force Il-76 registration СССР-86021 crashed 14 minutes after takeoff from Panevėžys Air Base. The crashed killed all 8 members of the crew.[59]
  • On 19 August 1996, an Il-76T crashed while trying to land at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, killing all 14 occupants on board.[60]
  • On 12 November 1996, Kazakhstan Airlines Flight 1907, an Il-76 had a mid-air collision near New Delhi, India with a Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 747, resulting in the loss of all 349 lives aboard both aircraft. The accident was ruled as pilot error, with the Il-76 aircraft failing to follow air traffic controller instructions.
  • On 27 November 1996, a Russian Air Force Ilyushin Il-76MD, registration RA-78804, flew into the hillside of a mountain, minutes after it departed Abakan Airport, and crashed 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) from the airport. All 21 occupants on board lost their lives in the accident.[61][62]
  • On 2 December 2001, Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Flight 9064 crashed at Novaya Inya, Russia, following an onboard fire, killing 18 on board.
  • On 19 February 2003, an Ilyushin Il-76 crashed near Kerman, Iran under unspecified reasons (possibly weather-related). The crash killed 275 people, including hundreds of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
  • On 8 May 2003, the rear loading ramp of an Il-76 leased by the Congolese government unexpectedly opened at 10,000 feet after taking off from the capital Kinshasa. Initial reports stated that over 120 policemen and their families had been sucked out in 45 minutes,[63] but 14 people actually died.[64]
  • On 15 January 2009, two Russian Ministry of Interior Il-76MDs were involved in a ground collision at Makhachkala Airport. One of the aircraft, registration RA-76825, was ready to depart and was positioned at the runway end when the other one, RA-76827, came into land. The wing of the landing aircraft struck the flight deck of RA-76825 and a fire erupted. There were three fatalities in the departing aircraft, out of seven occupants on board. None of the 31 occupants aboard RA-76827 were hurt. RA-76825 was written off as a consequence of the accident.[65][66]
  • On 9 March 2009 Aerolift Il-76 S9-SAB crashed into Lake Victoria just after takeoff from Entebbe Airport, Uganda, killing all 11 people on board. Two of the engines had caught fire on takeoff. The aircraft was chartered by Dynacorp on behalf of AMISOM. The accident was investigated by Uganda's Ministry of Transport, which concluded that all four engines were time-expired and that Aerolift's claim that maintenance had been performed to extend their service lives and the certification of this work could not be substantiated.[67]
  • On 22 September 2009, Il-76MD "5-8208" of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force crashed near Varamin killing all seven people on board.[68] The crash was possibly the result of a midair collision with a Northrop F-5E Tiger II.[69]
  • On 1 November 2009, an Il-76 belonging to the Russian Ministry of the Interior, crashed near the city of Mirny within 2 kilometers after taking off. Eleven people on board were confirmed as killed.[70]
  • On 28 November 2010 Sun Way Flight 4412, Il-76 4L-GNI, crashed in a populated area of Karachi, Pakistan, shortly after taking off from Jinnah International Airport. All eight people on board were killed, along with two people on the ground. The aircraft was reported to have been trying to return to Jinnah after suffering an engine fire.[71]
  • On 6 July 2011 a Silk Way Il-76, tail number 4K-AZ55, crashed into a mountain in Afghanistan, while on final to Bagram Air Force Base. Eight people on board were initially confirmed as killed, with one unaccounted.[72][73]
  • On 30 November 2012 an Aéro-Service[39] Il-76T (also reported as being operated by Trans Air Congo in the days after the accident[74]) crashed 850 meters short of runway 5L of the Congo's Maya-Maya Airport in Brazzaville while landing during a violent storm, killing 32, including the 5 aircrew, another person on board and 26 people on the ground.[75]
  • On 1 July 2016 an Il-76TD (RA-76840) operated by the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations (EMERCOM) went missing in the Irkutsk region while fighting a forest fire; the wreckage was found on 3 July 9 km (5.6 mi) east-southeast of Rybnyi Uyan, Kachug Region on the side of a volcano in the area of an active forest fire; the bodies of the ten crew members were also found. Accident remains under investigation.[76]
  • On 11 April 2018 an Il-76TD (7T-WIV) operated by the Algerian Air Force crashed just after takeoff from an airport at Boufarik — less than 30 km from the capital Algiers—killing at least 257 soldiers and civilians on board.[77]

Aircraft on display

  • UR-UCI (cn 083414444) preserved in the State Museum of Aviation, Kiev-Zhulyany.

Specifications (Il-76TD-90)

Data from Ilyushin,[78] Aviadvigatel,[79] Volga-Dnepr Airlines.[80]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 5
  • Capacity: Il-76M 42,000 kg (92,594 lb) ; Il-76MD 48,000 kg (105,822 lb) ; Il-76MD-90A 60,000 kg (132,277 lb)
  • Length: 46.59 m (152 ft 10 in)
  • Wingspan: 50.5 m (165 ft 8 in)
  • Height: 14.76 m (48 ft 5 in)
  • Wing area: 300 m2 (3,200 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 92,500 kg (203,928 lb) Il-76TD-90
92,000 kg (202,825 lb) Il-76MD/TD
104,000 kg (229,281 lb) Il-76MF/TF
  • Max takeoff weight: 195,000 kg (429,901 lb)
170,000 kg (374,786 lb) Il-76M/T
190,000 kg (418,878 lb) Il-76MD/TD
210,000 kg (462,971 lb) Il-76MF/TF


  • Maximum speed: 900 km/h (560 mph, 490 kn)
  • Maximum speed: Mach 0.82
  • Range: 4,000 km (2,500 mi, 2,200 nmi) Il-76MD-90A with 60,000 kg (132,277 lb) payload.
5,000 km (3,107 mi) Il-76MD-90A / TD-90VD with 52,000 kg (114,640 lb) payload.
4,000 km (2,485 mi) Il-76M/T with 52,000 kg (114,640 lb) payload.
4,400 km (2,734 mi) Il-76MD/TD with 52,000 kg (114,640 lb) payload.
4,200 km (2,610 mi) Il-76MF/TF with 52,000 kg (114,640 lb) payload.
  • Ferry range: 9,300 km (5,800 mi, 5,000 nmi) Il-76MD-90A with no payload.
  • Service ceiling: 13,000 m (43,000 ft)
  • Thrust/weight: Il-76: 0.228–0.252; Il-76M/T 0.282; Il-76MD/TD 0.252; Il-76MF/TF 0.228
  • Minimum landing run: 450 m (1,476 ft) with thrust reversers


  • Guns: 2× 23 mm cannon in radar-directed manned turret at base of tail
  • Bombs: Some military models have 2 hardpoints under each outer wing capable of supporting 500 kg bombs.

See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists



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