Russian Il-76 “Candid” Modified To Support Special Operations Conducts Flight Test Over The Black Sea

A special version of the Il-76MD-90A (Il-476) airlifter, developed for special forces support was tracked online during flight test recently.

A really interesting aircraft was spotted conducting flight testing over the Black Sea on Sept. 26, 2017: the Il-76MD-90A “78650”, the first “Candid” modified to carry out special operations.

According to the Russian media outlet “Izvestia” the example “78650” is a flying testbed for a heavily modified Il-76MD-90A variant equipped with “unique on-board radio-electronic systems that would allow the aircraft to stealthily deliver paratroopers and special forces behind the enemy lines, remaining invisible and invulnerable to the enemy.

How the aircraft can evade radars and remain invisible is unclear, anyway, the experimental Candid can be distinguished from the baseline IL-76MD-90A by the presence of an opto-electronic station mounted on the lower nose section of the aircraft and for the “President-C” system used designed to protect aircraft from MANPADS (Man-Portable Air Defense Systems) and IR (heat-seeking) missiles by laser and radiofrequency/electronic jamming of the missile guidance.

The aircraft is also equipped with advanced avionics, modernized communication suite and flight navigation system as well as a new collision warning system for low-level flying.

The example “78650,” used to test the new Special OPS variant of the Candid strategic cargo, is the same aircraft involved in the flight-test and certification program for the Il-76MD-90A airlifter (first flight on Sept. 22, 2012). According to “Izvestia,” the aircraft returned to the Aviastar manufacturing facility in Ulyanovsk, where new equipment was installed, in 2014.

The Il-76MD-90A “78650” (credit:

With the modified Il-76, Moscow aims to field all-weather, day and night aircraft capable to airdrop special forces or cargo well inside the enemy territory or to land on unprepared airstrips behind the enemy lines. More or less what the U.S. special operations aircraft (such as the MC-130s or the C-17 Globemaster IIIs) have been doing for some decades.

Needless to say we don’t know what type of sensor the Il-76 “78650” was testing over the Black Sea on Sept. 26; nevertheless, it is at least interesting that the activity of this highly modified aircraft filled with equipment required to undertake clandestine missions can be tracked online (by means of the usual Mode-S/ADS-B transponder) using

Top image created by editing a Flightradar24 screenshot with a chart published by Izvestia.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. The cargo hold of the IL-76 is slightly smaller than the C-17, the MTOW of the new Il-76 is only 100,000 lbs less than a C-17, both carry a similar number of paratroopers, and while the ’76’s range is not global like the C-17, the Russians don’t need global airlift, and when they do, they are interfaced with the worlds airports now. However every European theater of operations for the Russians are well within range.

    • So, the Candid is NOT the same as a C-17.

      Less payload.
      Less range.
      Smaller cargo hold.

      Yes, we know the they supported the invasion of the Ukraine.

  2. Uh? ??????

    Please enlighten us. What designs exactly you gave or they stole?

    I am not pro-Russia, I am not pro-US/NATO. I am pro-Truth, peace an prosperity for all nations of our only, lonely planet. Period. I invite you to honor truth and to “fight” (with words and votes) for your long life and peace and for ours too.

    Ruling elites everywhere (USA, Russia, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Baltics, Balkans, China, Japan, N. Korea, Israel, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Myanmar-Burma-Birmania, Saudia, Oman, Qatar, Georgia, Armenia, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba….) exist because you, I, and we, only bark at the Moon, digest what those elites’ Media feed us: Tactical and Strategic misinformation and then spread it in the name of patriotism (or money).

    It is tragic; but:

    “You only hate (name) because your TV told you to.

  3. The American missile defense is seen as that what the Rand Corporation told about it. An enabler of U.S. action. It inherits the danger that someone in the US could be stupid enough to think the US could win a war with a first strike and could shot down all missiles that are fired in retaliation.
    “So ballistic missile defense is not simply a shield but an enabler of U.S. action. ”

    The containers for the missiles can also be used for cruise missiles. You’d never know what’s in them.

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