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India’s fleet of IL-76 heavy transport aircraft, procured from the Soviet Union in the 1980s, are nearing the end of their service life. To address this, India is in discussions with Russia to undertake a significant overhaul program.

The IL-76 fleet, nearing 40 years of service, faces issues with Low availability due to Existing D-30KP engines that contribute to limited operational time along with that it also has Outdated avionics that are Incompatibility with modern civilian air traffic control systems that restricts its operation in international airspace.

IAF is planning to Replace the D-30KP engines with the more fuel-efficient PS-90A engines, already used in the IAF’s IL-78 tankers (derived from the IL-76 airframe) along with that carry out Upgrading navigation and communication systems to meet international standards.

A joint assessment with Russia’s National Aviation Service Company has been planned to determine the technical and economic feasibility of the overhaul. Factors like airframe condition, ‘time between overhauls,’ and ‘total technical life’ of the 11 IL-76MD aircraft will be crucial aspects.

A successful evaluation could lead to a joint India-Russia upgrade program, potentially to Extend the operational life of the IL-76 fleet until 2050. The IAF has already implemented limited upgrades, including Modernization of electronics and navigation systems and Structural modifications like removing the rear defensive turret.

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