The Ilyushin II-76 Candid is a landmark Soviet-era design. Russia’s first four-jet heavy transport, it was conceived and used to fly strategic military cargos into front-line air bases in the most extreme operational conditions.
The II-76 prototype made its first flight in 1971. It was intended as a replacement for the An-12. Production commenced in 1974. The basic II-76 (NATO reporting name Candid-A) transport was built purely for military service. It saw extensive service during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Over 800 of these cargo aircraft were built, as well as a number of specialized versions. The Il-76 is currently in service with Russia, Algeria, Belarus, China, Cuba, India, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria and Ukraine.
This aircraft was designed to deliver heavy vehicles and machinery to remote, poorly-serviced airfields. It can operate from short and unpaved runways. The Il-76 can cope with the worst weather conditions experienced in Siberia and Arctic regions.
The tough, dependable airframe spawned many variants – some designed to do the basic transport job even better, and others which serve as indispensable combat support roles. A bewildering array of other specialised variants have been developed for roles including mobile hospital, cosmonaut training and airborne command post, airborne laser platform and firefighter.
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