A further two Ilyushin Il-76MFs (upgrades of the basic Il-76 Candid military transport) are expected to join the flight-test programme in the first quarter of this year, with the manufacturer hopeful that the Russian air force will place an early order for at least another ten aircraft.

The Il-76MF is a stretched, re-engined variant of the basic Candid. It is fitted with Perm PS-90A turbofans rather than the original Aviadvigatel D-30KP II engines. The first modified aircraft was flown in 1995.

The Russian air force's transport arm has a growing need to replace its ageing Il-76s.

Originally, the Antonov An-70 was earmarked to take over some of its roles, with the proposed Ilyushin-106 being used for the heavier end of operations.

The Il-106 and An-70 programmes have suffered from severe underfunding. The Antonov project also suffered a setback, with the loss of the first prototype early in the flight-test programme. The Ukrainian manufacturer is close to completing a second prototype. The Il-106, meanwhile, appears to remain a design exercise only.

Source: Flight International