The first serial produced Il-76MD-90A (codename IL-476), a heavily upgraded version of the Ilyushin Il-76 military transport plane, achieved its debut flight on November 7, 2018.

The flight was announced on Facebook by Alexey Rogozin, CEO of the Ilyushin Aircraft Company, part of the United Aircraft Corporation. “This was the first flight of the Il-76MD-90A with the factory No. 01-09 - the first serial-produced plane built in compliance with the performance characteristics of the Russian Defense Ministry,“ said Rogozin. The plane is assembled at the Aviastar plant in Ulyanovsk, Russia.

The development of this new version started in 2006. In October 2010, a first order was placed by the Russian Ministry of defense, with 39 aircraft to be delivered by 2020. The contract amounted to 139,42 billion rubles (about $2.1 billion) making it at the time the biggest in Russian aviation history. The first prototype performed its maiden flight in September 2012. After several delays due to technical difficulties in adapting new systems and equipment to the airframe of the Il-76MD, flight tests for the definitive version eventually started in December 2016. The first aircraft was delivered to the Russian Air Force in January 2018.

The Il-76MD-90A is heavy transport aircraft, a substantially modernized version of the Ilyushin-76 that was manufactured by Tashkent Aviation Production Association in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in the 70’s, during the Soviet era. The flight control surfaces were modified and the general structure of the plane was simplified. The plane now sports new avionics with modernized navigation systems that include a digital cockpit. Only six crew members are now needed to operate it, one less than the original Il-76.

It is powered by four Aviadvigatel PS-90 engines, supposed to reduce the fuel consumption of the plane by 10%. The maximum payload of the plane is 52 tonnes and it can operate at a distance of 5,000 km (compared to 47 tonnes and 4,000 km for the previous iteration, the Il-76MD).

This aircraft will be used by the Russian military to transport a range of equipment, armed personnel and vehicles. It can also be used to parachute cargo and troops. Russian media agency TASS reports that the plane can also be used as a water bomber for firefighting.

Beriev Aircraft Company is working on an Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS ) version, the A-100, equipped with a new Vega Premier AESA radar. It is destined to replace the A-50 currently used in the Russian air force, which was already based on the Il-76.

Russian aircraft manufacturer Ilyushin is working on development of Il-276 - medium tactical transport aircraft system - which is afoot to replace the outdated An-12 models.