The Il-76, NATO code name "Candid," is a cargo aircraft designed in the Soviet Union, and looks roughly similar to the C-141 Starlifter and C-17 Globemaster III. Many are used by Aeroflot and the Russian Air Force, while many more are found in the hands of commercial operators like Air Koryo, Cubana, Syrianair, and Libyan Arab Airlines. Several other air forces use Il-76's, including those of the Czech Republic, India (where it's called the Galaraj), and Yemen. Iraq had many Il-76's before Gulf War II: several Il-76 carcasses could be seen in the post-battle aftermath at Saddam International Airport.

The plane first flew in 1971, and has since replaced the older An-12 Cub in a variety of mission roles. With its high-mounted wing and rugged landing gear, the Il-76 can operate from the most primitive airstrips in Siberia, and with a cruising speed of nearly 500 mph (800 km/h), it can cross Russia's vast width in no time at all. Its maximum payload is just over 110 000 lb (52 000 kg) in a cargo bay large enough to hold 140 passengers, 125 paratroopers, a medical unit, or oversized items up to 80 feet long and 10 feet wide.

Like the Boeing 707, the Il-76's airframe has been refitted for all sorts of purposes. The A-50 Mainstay is an AWACS airplane used by Russia, China, and India, while the Il-78 Midas is an Il-76 equipped for in-flight refueling. The Il-76DMP is used for firefighting, where it can carry and dump more than 40 tons of water or foam. The Il-76SK is used as an airborne command post, and the Il-76MPP is used for electronic warfare. Other Il-76's have been equipped for free fall training and operations in Antarctica, among other missions. Military-spec Il-76's are also lightly armed, with two 23mm machine guns sticking out of the tail to dispatch hungry F-16's.

Over 700 have been built, and they continue to fly around the world today.

Successful transport plane from one of the world's leading manufacturers

The IL-76 was designed to be the successor of the Antonov An-12, featuring highly improved specifications: it was supposed to take off and land almost everywhere, and be able to transport ca 40 tons of (military) cargo ca 3100 km in under 6 hours more economical as its predecessor. Designed under the supervision if Ilyushin's G V Novozhilov during the sixties, it's maiden flight was made on the 25th of March 1971 and was featured a couple of weeks later on the Paris Airshow, much to the surprise of the aviation press.

The IL 76 had 20 low pressure tryes on its landing-gear, assisting in "all terrain" handling, relatively high mounted wings featuring four Aviadvigatel turboprop engines, speeding the machine up to a maximum of 850 km/h with minimum payload. Not bad for a 30 year old freight plane. Loading and unloading was pretty easy and only needed 2 freighthandlers to operate the winch, cargo-lift and tail ramp. The aircrew consists of a pilot, copilot and a navigator.

In July 1975 an Il-76 that was still in R&D made 25 new payload to altitude records during four test flights.This featured lifting a payload of more than 154,590 pounds (70 metric tonnes) to an altitude of 38,960 feet (11,875m), and a speed of 532.33 mph (856.7km/h) around a 1,080 nm (2,000km) closed circuit with 121,253 pounds. Operating mainly as a civilian passenger/cargo transport for Aeroflot, it had not escaped NATO intelligence that the aircraft would be an important reserve to those surely operated by the military.

Main use of this plane was always supposed to be military transport (then fitted with two 23 mm cannons in a rear gun turret), but civilian demand was high, so Ilyushin started to design modified versions of the IL 76, giving it uses in firefighting (sporting a 40 ton watertank to be opened in midair), ambulance-transport, civilian cargo and passenger travel. So far ca 900 IL-76's have been built, and the plane is still in production in Tashkent.

Noders flying regularly from Stansted Airport can see one IL 76 standing regularly next to the runway in the cargo section.

Technical Specifications

  • Max takeoff 190,000kg
  • Operating empty 101,000kg
  • Max payload 52,000kg
  • Wing span 50.50m
  • Length 46.59m
  • Height 14.76m
  • Wing area 300.0m2


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