Watch These Russian IL-76 Transports Execute A Stunning Mass Flare Dump

Russian airlifters put on a lively demonstration of their self-defense capabilities during anniversary celebrations.

Russian MoD/Migalovo Air Base

While we’re used to seeing dramatic displays involving Russian fighter aircraft and attack helicopters, this time it’s the turn of the country’s air transport fleet to take center stage with a dazzling spectacle. Eye-catching imagery and video of the three Ilyushin Il-76MD Candid airlifters was released to mark the 90th anniversary of Russia’s Airborne Troops, also known as the Vozdushno-Desantnye Voyska, or VDV, yesterday.

The four-engine transports, flying from Migalovo Air Base in the Tver region, around 100 miles from Moscow, performed a fly-over of top brass and troops at a local training range on Aug. 2, 2020, dispensing hundreds of infrared decoy flaresin spectacular style.

As well as popping flares, the Il-76MDs commemorated the anniversary by dropping special forces paratroopers. The aircraft can accommodate up to 126 paratroopers that are delivered via the rear ramp in four rows, as well as from side doors on both sides of the fuselage. These jets routinely drop VDV armored vehicles and artillery under parachutes — from either high altitude, or at low level from just a dozen or so feet above the ground.

For the celebrations in Tver, the Il-76MD — a variant of the military transport that entered service with the Soviet Union back in 1981 — made use of its countermeasures dispensers, which comprise a 96-round 50mm APP-50R launcher on each undercarriage fairing and/or on each side of the fuselage. These can be loaded with infrared flares or chaff cartridges, as required. 

The Candid fields additional protection against missile threats in the form of optional SPO-10 Beryoza or S-3M Sirena radar warning receivers on the sides of the nose, plus SPS-5 Fasol-1-I1 electronic noise jammers. 

In a throwback to the Cold War, military Il-76MDs are also fitted with a 9A-503 defensive gun turret in the tail that includes two twin-barrel GSh-23 cannons. In addition, the Candid has a latent aerial bombing capability, which was also shown off during maneuvers that took place at Migalovo earlier this year.

Alongside the Strategic Rocket Troops, the VDV is one of two independent corps within the Russian military. Previously, it was provided with its own air assets, but by 2011 all had been transferred to the Russian Aerospace Forces. Back in November 2018, the VDV’s deputy commander Lt Gen Alexander Vyaznikov announced that the branch would in future add units from Army Aviation — most likely assault rotorcraft — but this has not yet happened. 

Seeing these transport workhorses spewing out flares shows it’s not just Russian jets that can put on eye-popping displays.

Contact the author: jamie@thedrive.com