Ilyushin IL-76 (Candid) Strategic Transport / Tanker Aircraft
Despite its age, the Soviet-era Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft series is still used around the globe in both civilian and military guises.
Authored By Dan Alex; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The Ilyushin IL-76 heavy transport was debuted in the early 1970s, entered service in the mid-1970s and is still operating today - some 36 years after its inception. At any rate, the IL-76 has proven something of a success story worldwide with an estimated 960 examples delivered. The airframe has also become highly adaptable to the needs of its clients in varying roles. Roles include both military and civilian functions, in carrying military paratroopers or civilian passengers as well as heavy cargo hauling. Other roles have been pressed upon the IL-76 including that of Electronic Intelligence (ELINT), AWACS-type duties, airborne hospital, Electronic CounterMeasures (ECM) (IL-76PP), airborne command post (IL-VPK), maritime Search and Rescue (SAR), firefighting, "Zero-G" training for Soviet cosmonauts (IL-76MDK) and aerial refueling.
The Soviet Need
The Ilyushin IL-76 was born out of a Soviet 1967 requirement calling for a heavy cargo hauler capable of carrying loads upwards of 88,000lbs out over 3,000 miles at speed. This aircraft was to serve with both the VTA Soviet military transport service and civilian operator Aeroflot while replacing the prop-driven, heavy cargo Antonov An-12BP. Additionally, the new design would have Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) capabilities in all weather types and inherent qualities to allow for operations from rough or unprepared airstrips. The aircraft would play a large role in servicing the remote, hard-to-reach outlying areas of the Soviet Empire. Ilyushin delivered on their concept - with a lead role played by G. V. Novozhilov - and the first prototype flew on March 25th, 1971.