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The Indian Air Force’s (IAF) hunt for a replacement for its aging AN-32 fleet has reignited Russian offer on it IL-276, a medium-lift transport aircraft offered by United Aircraft Corporation (UAC). This comes despite India’s previous withdrawal from the joint development program due to disagreements on engine selection. Last year at Aero India 2023 Russian delegation from Rostec held talks with Indian officials on the possibility of the joint development of the Il-276. Rostec proposed to renew the offer to co-develop the aircraft, and to allow the sale and the assembly of the Il-276 within India.

However, the IL-276 will now face stiff competition from the C-390 Millennium, a Brazilian-made aircraft by Embraer, which fits the bill for IAF. Let’s delve into the key similarities between these two contenders. Both the IL-276 and C-390M fall within the IAF’s specified range of 18 to 30 tonnes carrying capacity. This makes them ideal for transporting troops, cargo, and equipment over medium distances, fulfilling a critical role in military logistics and deployment.

Both aircraft might seem to boast a similar payload capacity, catering to the IAF’s needs for medium-weight transportation, but C-390M edges out IL-276 by 6-tons (26-ton vs 20-ton). Both are designed to operate from unpaved runways and austere landing strips, crucial for deployment in remote areas and disaster relief operations. Both are equipped with advanced navigation and communication systems, enhancing operational efficiency and safety. Both utilize turbofan engines, offering a balance between fuel efficiency and performance for medium-range missions.

But sticking point in the IL-276 co-development project was the Aviadvigatel PD-14M engines that have more power and can generate 152.98 kN vs 139.4 kN V2500-E5 turbofan engines but Russian engines donot come with Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) which was mandatory for the IAF due to which Russia might need to address India’s engine preferences if they wish to revive collaboration, also IAE V2500-E5 turbofan on the C-390 Millennium aircraft is more modern and comes with FADEC along with that is much more fuel efficient, making it superior to the Russian offering.

IL-276 program might not be taken up at this stage since development of the aircraft is nearing its end and India might have nothing or little to contribute in the program that will make it License assemble of the aircraft as same offered in the C-390 Millennium.