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Il-76 - Program History

In the late 1960s, as the Soviet military air force model An-12 already appeared smaller. The new aircraft would have similar field performance, but much greater speed and payload. The aircraft requirement was 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.

Taking for granted its superiority in the field of military transport design over any potential rivals, the Antonov design bureau offered an enlarged version of the An-12. It incorporated a set of proven design solutions like a zero-swept, shoulder-mounted wing and existing turboprop engines. What did not allow the Antonov designers room to be inventive was the burden of experience gained from An-8, An-12 and An-22 turboprop heavy-lifters, which were widely regarded classic transport aircraft.

To Antonov's surprise, the Soviet Defence Ministry opted for Ilyushin's offer In order to increase its military airlift capability, the Soviet Union decided to develop an aircraft similar to the United States C-141 heavy transport. The C-141 has a gross weight of about 317,000 pounds, which places it in the same size class as the Boeing 707-320B, and first flew in December 1963. The very large C-5A has a gross weight of 769,000 pounds, in the same weight class as the Boeing 747, and first flew in 1968. The C-141 and the C-5A are similar in appearance, but the difference in size is very obvious when the aircraft are seen side by side. The Soviet Ilyushin Il-76 military transport is similar in appearance to the two Lockheed aircraft and has a gross weight of 350,000 pounds.

The Soviets appeared to be impressed by US long-and short-haul air transport capabilities. Articles in the classified and open military press cited peacetime airlift exercises - such as Big Lift, Reforger, Bold Shot, Focus Retina, and Brass Strike - and quick-reaction movements during international crises as demonstrations of logistic lift capabilities. US transport activity in support of the Vietnam war was frequently discussed. A 1970 article in Aviation and Cosmonautics noted the rapid air movement of the 101st Airborne Division with all of its associated equipment from the US to Vietnam and the air evacuation of wounded American personnel to stateside hospitals aboard C-141s in 17 hours. Open and restricted press accounts of various US tactical airlift operations in the Indochina theater convey a similar impression of Soviet respect for US air transport capabilities.

The first prototype IL-76 aircraft flew its first test flight on 25 March 1971 in Moscow's central airport. It was dispayed at the Paris air show later that year. At the 1971 Paris air show, the chief of the Ilyushin design bureau described his new IL-76 transport aircraft as a small-scale version of the American C-5A rather than a scaled-up version of the C-141. Many of the design features and technical characteristics of the IL-76, such as its high flotation landing gear and its short takeoff and landing potential, were patterned-after the C-5A's capabilities.

The Soviet air force air transport command accepted the aircraft in 1974, stating that the aircraft met the requirements. In 1974, the Soviet Ilyushin Design Bureau Il-76 medium-medium transport aircraft was given the NATO code name "Candid". Flight testing continued until 1975, and subsequently put into batch production and delivery of troops and civil aviation. Ilyushin Moscow, Ilyushin Aviation Design Bureau was transformed into joint-stock company Federation and Uzbekistan of Tashkent Aircraft Production Corporation. The current IL-76 transport aircraft in the Russian army as a combat support, used to transport infantry and light armored units, simply the front-line airport. IL-76 can also implement parachute missions, dropping by the proper packaging of goods or military vehicles.

By early 1992, a total of more than 700 had been produced, with an annual output of more than 50 aircraft. As of 1997, a total of more than more than 950 had been produced, with an annual production capacity of nearly 50 aircraft. The main user is the air force of Russia, where civil aviation use hundreds of IL-76 transport aircraft. More than 100 aircraft were exported to many countries around the world, such as Afghanistan, Algeria, Cuba, China, the Czech Republic, India, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Poland, Syria, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

Improvement of the IL-76 models include: Il-76T, increased tank capacity in the middle of the wing, range increase. Il- -76TII development, an increase of 10 tons of fuel, increased flight range by 1200-kilometer, use the improved D-30KII-1 engine, mainly used for military transport. Il-76M improved, specially designed for the Soviet army, load up to 47 tons, more than 28 tons of base type IL-76 has increased almost twice. Another type have 2 23 mm self-defence machine gun. Il-76MD in based on changes of the structure of the fuselage, to carry more cargo, and extended range.

In the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan, by the end of the operation, IL-76 invasion carried out 77 sorties in three days, in which it airlifted to Afghanistan for troops and equipment. In 1984 a SA-7 single surface-to-air missile for the first time shot down an Il-76 and, in the next 1.5 years the IL-76 did not enter Afghanistan. The IL-76 was fitted wwith an APP-50 decoy launchers, steered by tail gun shooter. Hydraulic system nitrogen explosion devices were also retrofitted. Also changed the procedure of taking off and landing from m-24 gunship escorts, arrived rapidly after circling over the airport before landing. In June 1990, near Kabul one hit IL-76 aircraft was "Stinger" missile. The pilot's landing was successful, but the aircraft was scrapped. Shortly after an IL-76 aircraft crashed precipitously after dangerous mishandling.

In 1992, when soldiers surrounded the liberation of Afghanistan, Kabul, the Russian Government urgently dispatched three planes IL-76 for the withdrawal of diplomats. Results of an IL-76 aircraft was on the runway distance hit artillery destroyed. Another IL-76 crew abandoned take off, turn around and return the apron to save his colleagues, although later several tires also were hit by several pieces of the plane wreck, but took flight to flee Kabul.

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. In late October 2007, Rosoboronexport announced that it planned to double or triple its defense industry contracts with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (BRV), estimated at USD 4 billion. A Rosoboronexport spokesman added that patrol boats, landing craft, surveillance helicopters and coastal missile batteries could be future purchases. While many of these purchases reflect needed upgrades to Venezuela's aging defense forces, some weapons systems are in excess of Venezuela's needs. Venezuelan Air Force (FAV) Col. Oswaldo Hernandez Sanchez reported that Venezuela would be buying 10 Ilyshin 76 (NATO Designation IL-76 Candid) cargo planes and two Ilyshin 78 (NATO Designation IL-78 Midas) refueling aircraft.

The FAV of currently had only two operational C-130 cargo aircraft in Venezuela. The Russian Antonov-12 Cub would be the Russian equivalent to the C-130. Although President Chavez mentioned replacing his C-130 fleet with Antonovs in a September 2006 speech, no further action has been announced. The acquisition of the Il-76 represents an order of magnitude improvement in Venezuela transport capability. The IL-78 refueling variant is capable of in-flight refueling of three aircraft, such as Venezuela's new SU-30 fighters, simultaneously using the probe and drogue method.

Venezuela has a relatively poor road and rail network so an airlift capability, for humanitarian crises or to move materials for government building projects would be useful. The AN-12, however, might have been a better solution for Venezuela since it is designed for short take-offs and landings from crude runways, rather than the heavy IL-76. The IL-78 is clearly intended to refuel Chavez' fighter aircraft. Local media reported that some aircraft would arrive in mid-2008 and the balance in 2009. The IL-76 and IL-78 heavy cargo planes reportedly sold in 2007 have yet to appear.





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