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

Oct 03 2017 - 21 Comments

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.

  • arpete29

    Russian aircraft are up to date today and equal to the Occident ones

  • leroy

    ” … remaining invisible and invulnerable to the enemy”.

    Last week it was ROFAR that the Russians said; “will be half the weight of a current conventional radar and allow to virtually get a “3D TV picture on a range up to 400 km.” Considered the operational range of the radar, the ROFAR will be virtually impossible to jam” and now this? An invisible IL-76? My God what will it be next? A yellow Flying Sub that can shoot lasers? lol!!

    Well, I see the Russian troll operation is alive and well. : ) : ) : )

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    The new Il-76 mods look really impressive on paper and on jpg too. I really respect some of the decisions the Russians have made going with incremental upgrades instead of decades long development cycles for new systems. When the US is put into a financial corner like the Russians are today, I hope we can make similar smart decisions. While some of their upgrades seem questionable, my opinion is that the Il-76 mods are the Russian’s most elegant fit between form and function. In light of the more than a decade development cycle for the C-17, this was the best move the Russians could do. And it looks like they did it very well. That said, even these changes have taken on the order of a decade become operational.

    While functional and beautiful, I in no way buy into the statement that this aircraft is stealthy, and can quietly infiltrate air space. It’ll need to operate in airspace covered by the typical Russian contingent of SAMs with some fighter cover. This aircraft is probably many things a C-17 is, but it’s not unobtrusive. When these beasts are operating in your local area, the local aviation community will know.

  • mrsatyre

    Funny, I just saw an Il-76 at Dulles Int’l Airport last week. Best pic of the same plane I could find (Photo by Patrick Hofmann)

  • leroy

    Worldwide operators of the IL-76 looks like a who’s who of broke 3rd world nations. lol! When you have no money for a better American or European airlifter I guess you turn towards Ilyushin and fly this, the Trabant of the skies. Hell I wouldn’t even call it a Volkswagen! Actually probably closest to a Yugo. Anyway, this is no C-17 or A330. Nowhere near the technology of an A400. Its best use would be hauling scrap computer parts to Bangladesh for recycling.

    • Black Eagle

      3rd world nations operate Western airlifters same as fighter jets and helicopters, so logically when they can wasting money for overpriced Western equipment, they can afford competitive and cheaper Russian one as well. Anyway, nice attempt to describe Western stuffs again as it would be something only for chosen ones or something technologically unachievable for other countries with own military industry, but you failed again same as you will keep failing with your another pointless and Russophobe posts. Jealousy is the word that perfectly expresses every single of your anti-Russian crap.

    • Black Eagle

      “Anyway, this is no C-17 or A330. Nowhere near the technology of an A400.”

      You are right, this is not the C-17 or A400 because the Il-76 can fly almost everywhere or can take off and land almost everywhere, even where is no runway. Extreme climatic conditions like for example those in the Arctic do not pose any problem for this aircraft at all, same goes for other Russian military equipment. These are the aspects where Russian equipment will overcome its Western counterparts every time.

    • Holztransistor

      “hauling scrap computer parts to Bangladesh for recycling”

      You’re being cynical. The west is just dumping its waste on 3rd world countries and their soil is poisoned. What a beacon of civilization we are!

  • Ilya Kurenkov

    Testing of such plane is a sign that Russia plans to expand its overseas operations.
    Russians are good in using helicopters for SecOps deployment, now time has come for long-range shots.

  • Nied

    Given Russian media’s tendency for boastfulness I imagine the “invisible to radar” line has more to do with low level flight to avoid radar detection than some sort of ECM wizardry.

    Interesting that in addition to the new electronic gear they’ve also added four under-wing hardpoints. Curious to see what they intend to do with those.

    • Holztransistor

      Flying Krasukha-4? While the Russians sound very confident it’s not so far from what you can read about American military “products”. The Russians may find that funny. The same way you laugh at them. Surely goes both ways.

  • Alleged-Comment

    Man, so many of their airplanes and jets look like ours. KOPYKAT KOMMUNIST cannot invent or build anything without RIPPING it off from the Kapitalist West.

    China – number one KOUNTERFEITER and KOPYKAT and KOMMUNIST also.

  • rats123

    I say BS. How exactly is this plane invisible to radar?

  • Ilya Kurenkov

    Sorry, what do you want me to list? Helicopters or, hmm.. Russians?

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    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.

    • El Kabong

      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.

  • Tomas Rodriguez

    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.

    • Alleged-Comment

      Just open your eyes. Especially, after WWII.

  • Holztransistor

    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.