The Indian Air Force’s long-pending plans to upgrade its IL-76MD heavy-lift aircraft with new communication and navigation suites, avionics, and engine upgrades have been doldrums due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict but as per the latest media reports, IAF has dropped plans of upgrading them indefinitely since it is unlikely both countries can’t come together to work or are in a position to undertake the work while the conflict continues.

IAF operates a fleet of 14 IL-76MD and 6 IL-78MKI, IL-76MD that were procured from 1985 onwards are in dire need of upgrades due to advanced age, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict that has disturbed the supply chain already has grounded some of the aircraft. 6 IL-78MKI that are used as a mid-air refueller configuration are also facing issues with the refueling hydrants and the need for servicing of refueling pods due to which it might be grounded if course correction does not happen.

IAF wanted to upgrade the older IL-76 aircraft to the quieter and more economical Aviadvigatel PS-90A-76 high-bypass turbofan engines replacing their current Soloviev D-30KP turbofans that were developed in the early 60s and don’t meet many of the new safety and noise regulations while flying in civilian airspace at the International routes.

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