The Egyptian Air Force has taken delivery of two Il-76 transport aircraft acquired second hand from Jordan as it expands its strategic airlift capabilities.
Photos of the aircraft at an air force base in Egypt emerged late last month. Russian state arms holding company Rosoboronexport told TASS that Russia had allowed Jordan to transfer the aircraft to Egypt.
“The re-export example shows Russian flexibility in resolving vital issues of the partners in arming the national armed forces and confirms that Ilyushin airlifters are known in the world as reliable and simple to operate aircraft,” Rosoboronexport said.
Egypt is the only operator of the Il-76MF, a stretched version of the Il-76MD transport aircraft with a fuselage that has been lengthened by two additional 3.3 metre sections in front of and behind the wing, increasing the cargo compartment’s volume and aircraft payload. The variant also features new PS-90A-76 engines, upgraded navigational equipment and systems.
The Il-76MFs were delivered to Jordan in June 2011 after a 2006 contract with Russia. They were operated by Jordan International Air Cargo, which was founded in 2004 and owned and operated by the Royal Jordanian Air Force. The aircraft, serials 360/JY-JIC and 361/JY-JID, became 1331/SU-BTX and 1332/SU-BTY in Egyptian service.
The deal was concluded in February this year, according to Scramble Magazine, with the aircraft transferred in early July. Egypt is apparently aiming to buy eight Il-76MFs to bolster its strategic airlift fleet, which is quite limited. There were reports that Egypt was interested in acquiring Airbus A400M Atlas aircraft, but this does not seem to have proceeded anywhere.
The Egyptian Air Force has mostly smaller transport aircraft in its fleet, including two dozen C-130H Hercules, several An-74TK-200As, two dozen C-295Ms, several DHC-5D Buffalos and a number of Boeing 707 tanker/transports.
Jordan has been selling off a large number of Air Force aircraft as part of a wide-ranging rationalisation and cost-cutting program initiated by the current Royal Jordanian Air Force Commander Major General Yousef Ahmed Al Hnaity. Aircraft put on the market from September 2018 include eight UH-60L Black Hawks, two AC235 gunships, 17 AH-1F Cobra attack helicopters, one C-130B Hercules transport, 12 Hawk Mk 63 jets and 13 UH-1H transport helicopters.