Modernizing its small and aging transport fleet (mainly Y-7/An-26 and Y-8/An-12s), PLAAF purchased 20x Il-76MD Candid transport aircraft (max load 48t, normal range 5,000km) from Russia and Uzbekistan in the early 90s. Painted as IL-76MDs, these are models without tailgun and military electronic equipment. Once operated by China United Airline the fleet is now flown directly by PLAAF 13th Division.
The Il-76MDs are associated with Army's airborne divisions (15th Army) in many military exercises, where they drop paratroopers and heavy equipment including a new type of AFVs. This can be viewed as a significant boost to PLA's rapid reacting capability.
4 aircraft were converted into KJ-2000 AWACS. It was reported in 2005 that China signed a contract for additional 30x Il-76MDs (or Il-76MFs) with Russia, but deal is on hold due to rising cost at the manufacturer. The Chinese Il-76MDs are expected to be replaced by the new Y-20 in 2018.
Il-76MD airlifter http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/40/Use_your_Ilyushin_edit1.jpg
Il-76 converted into KJ-2000 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a5/Kongyu_2000%2C_People%27s_Liberation_Army_Air_Force%2C_China.jpg
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