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 service
Primary users Soviet Air Forces (historical)
Russian Aerospace Forces
Ukrainian Air Force
Indian Air Force
Produced 1971–present
Number built 969[2]
Variants Ilyushin Il-78
Beriev A-50
Beriev A-100

The Ilyushin Il-76 (Russian: Илью́шин Ил-76; NATO reporting name: Candid) is a multi-purpose, fixed-wing, four-engine turbofan strategic airlifter designed by the Soviet Union's Ilyushin design bureau as a commercial freighter in 1967, to replace the Antonov An-12. It was developed 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.

The Il-76 has seen extensive service as a commercial freighter for ramp-delivered cargo, especially for outsized or heavy items that cannot be carried by other means. 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. Thanks to 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 Il-76 is a high-wing freighter with four turbofans and a T-tail


The aircraft was conceived by Ilyushin in 1967 to meet a requirement for a freighter able to carry a payload of 40 tonnes (88,000 lb) over a range of 5,000 kilometres (2,700 nmi; 3,100 mi) in less than six hours, able to operate from short[vague] 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 project design for a double-decked 250-passenger airliner was cancelled. The Il-76 first flew in March 1971 (1971-03).[3]

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.[4] In the 1990s, modernized variants also equipped with Soloviev D-30 turbofan engines[5] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] In June 2013, Russian military export agency Rosoboronexport announced an order by China for 12 Il-76MD aircraft.[6]

Landing gear of an Ilyushin Il-76
Landing of the Il-76 transport aircraft at the Brest airport

The Il-76 has also been modified into an airborne refuelling tanker, designated the Il-78, around 50 aircraft having been produced.[4] 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.[4] 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).[7] 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.[8]


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.[4] At that point, the construction of two Il-76MD-90A prototypes had begun at the Ulyanovsk facility.[9] The first Il-76MD-90A was rolled out at Aviastar's Ulyanovsk plant on 16 June 2014.[10] On 29 April 2015, it was reported that the Russian Aerospace Forces received the first Il-76MD-90A built at the Ulyanovsk plant "Aviastar-SP" from the 2012 contract for 39 aircraft.[11] The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) received its first serial production Ilyushin Il-76MD-90A airlifter on 2 April 2019.[12] As of late-2023, 27 aircraft are ordered to be delivered in the period up to 2028 and 20 had been built, 6 in 2023.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][excessive citations]

Operational history

The first aircraft was delivered to the Soviet Air Force in June 1974[1] and subsequently became the main Soviet strategic transport aircraft. From 1976, it was operated by Aeroflot.

Video of Il-76MD landing on an unpaved runway

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 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.[27] In 2006, the Russian Air Force had about 200 Il-76s. Civilian users in Russia have 108.[4]

On 3 August 1995, an Airstan Ilyushin Il-76 piloted by a Russian crew was forced down by a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan Air Force fighter in what became known as the Airstan incident. The crew were imprisoned for nearly a year, but later escaped out of their confinement and managed to sneak into their aircraft still at the airport and fly out of Afghanistan.[28]

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

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.[29]

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, were killed.[30]

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 international sanctions.[31][32][33]

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.[34][35][36]

On 30 January 2017, an IL-76 firebomber of the Russian EMERCOM agency was deployed to Chile to assist firefighters. The assignment took 39 days.[37]

All Il-76 transport aircraft in service with the RF Aerospace Forces were to receive anti-missile systems, and aircraft reconfiguration started in spring 2019.[38]

On 25 February 2022, during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian State Special Communications Agency and US officials claimed that Russian Il-76s were shot down over Bila Tserkva.[39] As of September 2022, no wreckage of the planes has been found.[40]

On 4 April 2022, photographs of two destroyed Il-76s from the Ukrainian 25th Transport Aviation Brigade were displayed; these cargo planes were destroyed on the ground by Russian forces at Melitopol Airport.[41]

On 30 August 2023, four Il-76s were reportedly destroyed by Ukrainian kamikaze drone strikes at Pskov Airport.[42][43]

On 24 January 2024, an Il-76 crashed near Yablonovo in Russia's Belgorod Oblast near the Russian-Ukrainian border. In the immediate aftermath, multiple unsubstantiated, conflicting accounts regarding the circumstances of the crash were presented by Ukraine-aligned sources and Russian state media outlets and officials.[44][45]

On 12 March 2024, an Il-76 crashed near the Ivanovo Severny airbase, after a fire occurred in one engine, and the aircraft was unable to reach the airfield. All eight crew and seven passengers were killed in the crash.[46]


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Prototypes and developmental variants

Il-76TD-90, Aviadvigatel PS-90 engines have larger diameter.
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

Il-76LL with PD-14 engine prototype under testing, 2015
Il-76TD glass nose which is flight navigator's station
Il-76LL SKIP testbed, 1999
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", Il-976, or Il-76SK)[47] – (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
Il-76-Tu160 tailplane transporter
One-off temporary conversion to support Tu-160 emergency modification programme.
Zero-g cosmonaut trainer (dlya podgotovki kosmonavtov), used by Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center.
Engine testbed, (ooniversahl'naya letayuschchaya laboratoriya).
ECM aircraft, major problems with ECM equipment on the Izdeliye-176 only.
Maritime Search and Rescue aircraft, (alternative designation – Il-76PS – poiskovo-spasahtel'nyy), not produced.

Military variants

Il-76MD-90A of the Russian Aerospace Forces
Il-76MD GSh-23 tail guns
Il-76MD cargo cabin
('D' for "Desantnyi", Десантный – "Paratrooper transport") has a gun turret in the tail for defensive purposes.
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-90A-76 engines, maximum takeoff weight of 210 tonnes and a lift capability of 60 tonnes. First flew in 1995. Two built and delivered to the Royal Jordanian Air Force,[1] later sold to the Egyptian Air Force.
Modernized Il-76MD for the Russian Aerospace Forces.[48][49][50]
An upgraded version with a new glass cockpit, upgraded avionics, new one-piece carbon-fibre wing, and Aviadvigatel PS-90A-76 engines. It was also known as Il-476 while in development.[10][51]
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').
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. Currently in development, with at least two prototypes built.

Civil variants

A commercial variant of the Ilyushin Il-76, loading cargo at Ali Air Base, Iraq
An Il-76TD belonging to the IRGC, used as a firefighting aircraft
Initial commercial freighter. (two prototypes and 12 production) equipped with Soloviev D-30 Turbofan engines.[52]
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.[52]
An Il-76TD with Aviadvigatel PS-90 engines and a partial glass cockpit.
An Il-76TD with Aviadvigatel PS-90 engines and a partial glass cockpit. It was developed specially for Volga-Dnepr cargo company, which operates five aircraft as of 2021.[53]
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

The A-50E/I Mainstay of the Indian Air Force
Beriev A-50E/I
For the Indian Air Force. Hosts Israeli Phalcon radar for AEW&C and Aviadvigatel PS-90 engines.[54]
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 (190 nmi; 220 mi). One was destroyed on the ground during the 1991 Persian Gulf War; two others were flown to Iran where they remained.[55] 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.[56] 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.


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Present and former Il-76 operators
  Military operators
  Civilian operators
  Military and civilian operators

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.

Military operators

People's Liberation Army Air Force Il-76 landing at Perth Airport, Australia. This aircraft took part in the Search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
 Democratic Republic of the Congo
 Equatorial Guinea
Indian Air Force Il-76 landing at Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport located in Leh.
A Russian Air Force Il-76MD at Chkalovsky Air Base.
Uzbekistan Air and Air Defence Forces Il-76 landing at Beijing Capital International Airport.

Former military operators

Il-76 of the Soviet Air Forces.
 Soviet Union

Civil operators

A Pouya Air Il-76 landing at Mehrabad Airport in Dec 2023.
A TransAVIAexport Ilyushin Il-76TD at Frankfurt Airport.
A pair of Air Koryo Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft at Pyongyang International Airport.
 North Korea
 United Nations
 United States
 United Arab Emirates

Former civil operators

 Burkina Faso
 Democratic Republic of the Congo
 Republic of the Congo
 Equatorial Guinea
GST Aero IL-76 at Patriot Hills Base Camp, Antarctica
 Sierra Leone
 Soviet Union
Loading BMD-1 in Ukrainian Air Force IL-76


This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources in this section. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Ilyushin Il-76" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (March 2023) (Learn how and when to remove this message)
An Il-76MD that was damaged during the Sknyliv air show disaster on 27 July 2002, during which the Sukhoi Su-27 involved struck a glancing blow against the aircraft's nose before crashing into spectators

As of January 2024, a total of 95 Il-76 series aircraft have been written off in crashes and other accidents. Previous 94 aircraft details can be found here. [82]

Aircraft on display

Specifications (Il-76TD)

Data from Ilyushin,[123] Aviadvigatel,[124] Volga-Dnepr Airlines.[125]

General characteristics



See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists



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