A senior Air Force officer told that, Indian Air Force (IAF) will be soon deliberating on a 4,000-crore proposal to upgrade 17 IL-76 heavy-lift aircraft which are due for major overhauls and modernization along with plans to replace this Soviet-Era Jumbo Transporters that are suffering from low availability and older avionics which have crippled the fleet strength.

The oldest aircraft now being 38 and youngest being 32 years old and with average serviceability of the fleet at just 38 percent, most of them remain grounded with poor availability of spares. IAF has been long avoiding taking up the modernization plans and acting on suggestions that were made a few years back.

IAF had deliberated and suggestions were made to get older Il-76 aircraft that are still powered by older D-30KP turbofan engines be replaced by more modern PS-90A-76 turbofan bypass engines along with modern avionics that follows current aviation standards to fly in international aviation corridors that could have extended another 15 years of service life but nothing has happened in last 5 years after these suggestions were made.

Procurement of 11 American Jumbo Transporters C-17 that has average serviceability of the fleet close to 100 percent is now used extensively to airlift men and material to forward areas, that were primarily carried out by the Il-76. IAF is still looking out to procure 2 more C-17s even though the production line has been closed down by Boeing a few years back. One of the suggestions made was to acquire surplus reserves from the United States Air Force (USAF) but that could not materialize due to lack of spare aircraft with USAF.

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