Ilyushin Il-78

The PLAAF currently operates three Ilyushin Il-78 (NATO code name: ‘Midas’) aerial refuelling tankers, which were remanufactured examples acquired from Ukraine in 2012. China’s previous attempt to purchase 8 newly-built Il-78s along with 30 Il-76 transports from Russia and Uzbekistan in 2005-07 was unsuccessful, when the deal collapsed after prolonged delays and price hikes.

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Ilyushin Il-76

The Ilyushin IL-76 (NATO reporting name: ‘Candid’) is a large four-engine jet military transport designed by Ilyushin Design Bureau in the early 1970s. The PLAAF acquired 14 examples of the Il-76MD ‘Candid-B’ variant in 1990, which has remained the only strategic airlifter in its service until the introduction of the indigenous Xi’an Y-20. Additional examples of remanufactured airframes have been ordered as a stop-gap.

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Shaanxi Y-9

The Y-9 is a medium-sized, multi-purpose turboprop transport aircraft comparable in size and performance to the Lockheed Martin C-130J. The aircraft has been derived from the Shaanxi Y-8 (An-12 ‘Cub’), but features upgraded engines and modern avionics. As well as serving as a tactical transport, the aircraft is also used as the aerial platform for a variety of special role aircraft.

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Xi’an Y-7 / MA60

The Y-7 is a small twin-engine turboprop passenger aircraft developed by XAC based on the Russian Antonov An-24 ‘Coke’ and An-26 ‘Curl’ military transport. As well as being used as a short-range passenger airliner, the Y-7 has been operated by the PLA as a tactical military transport and training aircraft. The aircraft is operational with the aviation element of all three PLA service branches.

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