IAF Taps Domestic Expertise for Major IL-76 Repairs, Explores Fleet Life Extension

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In a significant departure from past practices, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has commissioned an Indian firm to conduct major repairs on two of its Russian-made IL-76 heavy lift aircraft.

This marks the first time the IAF has entrusted such extensive maintenance to a domestic entity, as major overhauls were previously handled exclusively by Russia.

The two IL-76 aircraft sustained substantial damage to their undercarriage and airframe structure, necessitating on-site repairs at the Chandigarh airbase.

The selected Indian firm will assess the required repairs and obtain approval from relevant Indian authorities, such as the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC). If necessary, the firm will be permitted to transport damaged components off-site for repairs.

This move to leverage domestic expertise aligns with the IAF's broader initiative to extend the operational lifespan of its aging IL-76 fleet, which has been in service for nearly 40 years.

The IAF has already initiated discussions with Russia to assess the feasibility of prolonging the fleet's technical life to 2050, far beyond the current 2035 timeframe.

This potential upgrade program would entail a comprehensive review of the maintenance intervals and overall lifespan of the 11 IL-76MD aircraft currently in service.

Furthermore, the IAF is exploring the possibility of replacing the existing D-30KP engines with more efficient PS-90a engines, as well as incorporating modern avionics suites and control systems. These upgrades aim to enhance the fleet's capabilities and ensure its continued relevance in the coming decades.

The decision to involve Indian industry in major repairs underscores the IAF's growing confidence in domestic capabilities and its commitment to self-reliance in defence maintenance.

While the specific Indian firm undertaking the repairs has not been publicly disclosed, this development represents a significant milestone in the evolution of India's aerospace industry.
 

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