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Ilyushin Il-76

By Wikipedia,
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Atlant-Soyuz Il-76 at Baghdad International Airport
Role Strategic airlifter
Manufacturer Tashkent Aviation Production Association
Designed by Ilyushin
First flight March 25, 1971
Introduced June 1974[1]
Status Operational
Primary users Russian Air Force
Ukrainian Air Force
Indian Air Force
TransAVIAexport Airlines
Number built 960[2]
Variants Ilyushin Il-78
Beriev A-50

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

An Il-78 leads an aerial formation during the Victory Day parade over Moscow, Russia.
An Il-78 leads an aerial formation during the Victory Day parade over Moscow, Russia.

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 first flew on March 25, 1971.

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.

Operational history

Ilyushin Il-76MD of Iraqi Airways at Basle in 1984
Ilyushin Il-76MD of Iraqi Airways at Basle in 1984

USAF and IAF airmen work inside the cockpit of an Indian Il-76.
USAF and IAF airmen work inside the cockpit of an Indian Il-76.

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.

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). Still more applications have been found in Antarctic support flights and simulated weightlessness training for cosmonauts.. Beriev and NPO Almaz also developed an airborne laser flying laboratory designated A-60, of which two were built, although little is known about it, as the project is still classified.

1988 Maldives Coup

Also known as the Operation Cactus, on November 3, 1988, the Indian Air Force paratroopers were flown to the islands of Maldives in Il-76MD to foil an attempt to overthrow the government on the Republic Of Maldives after help was requested by the government of Maldives to India.

Hurricane Katrina

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.


Prototypes and Development Variants

Il-76TD, one of the first variants, at Zurich Airport.
Il-76TD, one of the first variants, at Zurich Airport.
  • Izdeliye-176 - prototype Il-76PP.
  • Izdeliye-576 -
  • Izdeliye-676 - Telemetry and communications relay aircraft, for use during trial programmes, (prototype).
  • Izdeliye-776 - Telemetry and communications relay aircraft, for use during trial programmes, (prototype).
  • IZdeliye-976 (SKIP)[2] - (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.
  • Izdeliye-1076 - Special mission aircraft for unknown duties.
  • Izdeliye-1176 - ELINT electronic intelligence aircraft, a.k.a.Il-76-11
  • Il-76TD-90 / Il-76MD-90 Engine upgrades to Perm PS-90's.
  • Il-76 firebomber - Fire-fighting aircraft to drop exploding capsules filled with fire retardant.
  • Il-76PSD' - SAR version of Il-76MF
  • Il-96 - Early development of convertible passenger/cargo aircraft, (project only, designation re-used later)
  • Il-150 - proposed Beriev A-50 with Perm PS-90 engines.
  • Beriev A-60 - Airborne laser weapon testbed. (Il-76 version 1A)

Military variants

An Il-76 in-service with the Indian Air Force
An Il-76 in-service with the Indian Air Force

An Il-78MKI in-service with the Indian Air Force
An Il-78MKI in-service with the Indian Air Force
  • Il-76-Tu160 tailplane transporter - One-off temporary conversion to support Tu-160 emergency modification programme.
  • Il-76D - ('D' for "Desantnyi", Десантный - "Paratrooper transport") has a gun turret in the tail for defensive purposes.
  • Il-76K / Il-76MDK/Il-76MDK-II - Zero-g trainer "Vomit Comet" ((dlya podtokovki) kosmonathov)
  • Il-76LL - Engine testbed, (ooniversahl'naya letayuschchaya laboratoriya).
  • Il-76M - Military transport version, (modifitseerovannyy - modified).
  • Il-76MD - 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 m's and MD's (Gordon - 'Falsies')
  • 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 - ECM aircraft, major problems with ECM equipment, Izdeliye-176 only.
  • Il-76MD PS - Maritime Search and Rescue aircraft, (poiskovo-spasahtel'nyy).
  • Il-76T/Il-76TD - Built as military aircraft but given civilian designations. (Gordon - 'Falsie')
  • Il-78 / Il-78M - Aerial refuelling tanker.
  • Il-82 - Airborne Command Post/communications relay aircraft, (alternative designation - Il-76VKP-'version65S').
  • Beriev A-50/Beriev A-50M/Beriev A-50I/Beriev A-50E- Airborne Early Warning & Control aircraft. Beriev given control over the program.

Civil variants

A commercial variant of Ilyushin Il-76 loading cargo at Ali Base in Iraq
A commercial variant of Ilyushin Il-76 loading cargo at Ali Base in Iraq
  • Il-76MGA - Initial Commercial freighter. (2 prototypes and 12 production)
  • 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.
  • 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-76TD-S - Civilian mobile Hospital, similar to Il-76MD Skal'pel-MT.
  • Il-76TF - Civil transport stretched version with Aviadvigatel PS-90 engines. It is the civil version of the Il-76MF (none produced).

Foreign Variants

Il-76 Phalcon

For the Indian Air Force. Hosts Phalcon radar for AWACS and Aviadvigatel PS-90 engines.

Il-76MD tanker

Iraqi Air Force tanker conversions.


Domestic Chinese AWACS conversion of Il-76, developed after A-50I was cancelled and currently in service with the armed forces of China. Equipped with an active phased array (AESA) radar designed by China's Research Institute of Electronic Technology and 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-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 Persian Gulf War but two others (Adnan-1 and Adnan-2) were flown to Iran where they remained, although it is not known if they are still operational.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.


Present and ex-Il-76 operators. (Red=Military only Green=Civilian only Blue=Both)
Present and ex-Il-76 operators. (Red=Military only Green=Civilian only Blue=Both)

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.

 United Nations
  • The Algerian Air Force operates 11 Il-76 aircraft, including 3 Il-76MD, 8 Il-76TD, and 7 Il-78 Midas.
 Burkina Faso
 Democratic Republic of the Congo
 Equatorial Guinea
  • 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
 Laos – 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.
  • Imtrec aviation of Cambodia operates Laos registered Il-76TD.
 North Korea
 Sierra Leone
  • Aerolift Sierra Leone operates Il-76 aircraft for special charter and cargo lift operations.
 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.
 United States
 United Arab Emirates

Incidents and accidents

Specifications (Il-76D)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 5–7
  • Capacity: 40,000 kg (Il-76), 48,000 kg (Il-76M/T), 50,000 kg (Il-76MD/TD), 60,000 kg (Il-76MF/TF)
  • Payload: 45 – 47 tonnes (~50 tons)
  • 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: 300.0 m² (3,229.2 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 72,000 kg (Il-76), 92,000 kg (Il-76MD/TD), 104,000 kg (Il-76MF/TF) (159,000 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 157,000 kg (Il-76), 170,000 kg (Il-76M/T), 190,000 kg IL-76MD/TD), 210,000 kg (Il-76MF/TF) (346,000 lb (Il-76))
  • Powerplant:Soloviev D-30KP turbofans, 118 kN (26,500 lbf) each


  • Maximum speed: 900 km/h (490 kt, 560 mph, or Mach 0.82-1.17 groundspeed depending on altitude)
  • Range: (with max payload) 3,650 km (Il-76), 4,000 km (Il-76M/T), 4,400 km (Il-76MD/TD), 4,200 km (Il-76MF/TF) (nm, mi)
  • Service ceiling: 13,000 m (42,700 ft)
  • Rate of climb: m/s (ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 566.7 kg/m² (Il-76M/T), 633.3 kg/m² (Il-76MD/TD) (116.05 lb/ft² (Il-76M/T), 129.72 lb/ft² (Il-76MD/TD))
  • Thrust/weight: 0.305 (Il-76), 0.282 (Il-76M/T), 0.252 (IL-76MD/TD), 0.228 (Il-76MF/TF)


  • Guns: 2× 23 mm cannon in radar-directed manned turret at base of tail

Some military models have 2 hardpoints under each outer wing capable of supporting 500 kg bombs.

See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Related lists

External links

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Published in July 2009.

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