Illyushin 76MD, 78MKI, A-50

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Origin: Russia

Type: Heavy Transport Aircraft.

Crew: Two pilots, One Navigator, One Flight Engineer

Weights: Empty – 75,000 kg (165,347 lbs.)
…………MTOW – 170,000 kg (374,786 lbs.)

Engine: Il-76 : Four Soloviev D-30KP-1 turbofans (26,455 lbf thrust)
Il-78 & A-50 : Four Aviadvigatel PS-90A turbofan (35,200 lbf thrust)

Speed: Maximum – 459 knots (528 mph; 850 km/h) at 11,000 meters (36,090 feet)

……….Max. cruising speed – 432 knots (497 mph; 800 km/h)

Service Ceiling: 12,000 meters (39,370 ft.)

Range: Maximum – 3107 miles (5000 km) with a 40,000 kg (88,185 lbs.) payload.

Capacity:  225 paratroopers or 40 tons freight, wheeled or tracked armoured vehicles, etc.

Avionics: Search /Weather Radar (Il-76). Phalcon AEW System (A-50)

Armament: Twin 23mm cannon in tail turret (removed in Upgraded Il-76, Il-78 and the A-50)

Self Defence: ECM – Flare/Chaff Dispenser.

More: Il-76Il-78 and Beriev_A-50 on Wikipedia


Illyushin Il-76MD [Candid] Gajraj

Illyushin Il-76MD [Candid] Gajraj

Number Procured: 17 Il-76MD Transports,
………………………..7  Il-78MKI Aerial Refuellers
………………………..3  A-50E Phaelcon AEW (One yet to be delivered)

Variants: Illyushin 76MD, Illyushin 78MKI, A-50E Phaelcon

Units Equipped: 4 +
………………….. 44 Squadron “Mighty Jets”
………………….. 25 Squadron “Himalayan Eagles” – ‘A’ Flight
………………….. 50 AEW Squadron
………………….. 78 Mid Air Refuelling Squadron “Valorous MARS”  
………………….. Aviation Research Center (Cabinet Sectt)

Brief History: 

Il-76M Transports

Known as the Gajraj (King Elephant) in the IAF, the IL-76MD forms the strategic/heavy transport fleet. 

The Indian Government first approved the induction of IL 76 MD aircraft in March 1983.  The IAF ordered a total of Seventeen aircraft during the period  December 1983 to 1988. The cost of the aircraft ranged from Rs 35.35 crores for the the 1983 order to  Rs.43.50 crores for the last examples contracted in 1988. 

The overhaul period of the Il-76 airframe was stipulated as 5,000 flying hours whereas that of the engine was 2,000 hours or 10 years. Ten engines installed on these aircraft however, were withdrawn prematurely after completing only 9.05 to 38.15 percent of their prescribed overhaul life. The sanctioned utilisation rate was 66 hours per aircraft per month, the rate achieved by these aircraft during the period 1985 to 1988 was only 15.35 to 28.26 hours.


Deliveries to the IAF began in 1985 and they were used in the Maldives in 1987 and in Sri Lanka during 1987-1990 to great effect. The aircraft also flew pioneering missions like airlifting Bofors Howitzers to Thoise and T-72 tanks to Jaffna and Ladakh.


In 1990, two IL-76MDs were modified and their objective was to test the system’s effectiveness to divert fire power of heat seeking air/surface-to-air missiles, shoulder-fired guns, and also jamming of radar by dispensing chaff around the aircraft. Today this equipment is standard on the Illyushins.


The 14 aircraft in IAF service are distributed between 44 Squadron and 25 Squadron (one Flight). The remaining three aircraft are operated by the Aviation Research Center which falls under the Cabinet Secretariat.


In 2006, the first of the Il-76s [K3666] underwent an overhaul and upgradation. This involved a new avionics suite and the removal of the tail gunner turret. (The Il-76 had been only the second aircraft in the IAF’s transport fleet to sport a tail gun!)

Il-78 Refuellers

Defence Minister Jaswant Singh, in a written reply to Parliament in July 2001, said the IAF is acquiring six IL-78/78M in-flight refueling aircraft from Uzbekistan. The price negotiation committee completed its work in February 2001 and the contracts were signed in April 2001. The price per aircraft has been put at approximately $50 million.

The first two Il-78s arrived in the first half of 2003 and are believed to be part of a newly raised No.78 “Valorous MARS” Squadron. The Il-78MKI as it was designated in the IAF made its first public appearance in the Air Force Day Parade on 8th October 2003. It is evident from photographs that the Il-78s had carried out operations with the Su-30MKIs and various variants of the Jaguar family, and have undertook flights to Europe and North America on Exercises.

A-50 Phalcon AEW

[Coming Soon]

Aircraft Serials 


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