Despite having a fleet of 10 very capable strategic airlifters of the Boeing C-17A Globemaster III type, the Indian government intends to keep its older Ilyushin IL-76s flying well into the future. New Delhi just allocated the first funds for a upgrade of the fleet, that will include the IL-78 tanker versions of the Russian-made strategic airlifter as well.
Currently the Indian Air Force flies 17 IL-76MD “Gajraj” and seven IL-78MKI. The proposed upgrade includes giving all 24 aircraft new engines, which are likely to come from Russia, plus giving Indian companies a chance to provide hard- and software for additional upgrades that may even include the avionics.
The IL-78 tankers fly with 78 Squadron flying out of Acra Air Force Station, while the IL-76 transport fleet is operated by 25 Squadron at Chandigarh and 44 Squadron at Nagpur/Dr. Ambedkar IAP. The modernisation should keep the fleet flying for an additional 15 years until 2030 or later.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: An Indian Air Force IL-76MD (Image © Marcel Burger)