China to Buy 38 IL-76 Heavy Transports, IL-78 Tankers
Media sources agree that China’s military will sign a contract with Russia for the purchase of 38 Ilyushin IL-76MD “Candid” military transport aircraft and derivative IL-78KM “Midas” air-air refueling tankers – but they do not agree on the price. Estimates range from $850 million to $1.5 billion.
The contract is to be signed on Thursday in Russia’s Black Sea coastal city of Sochi.
The business daily Vedomosti reports that the deal is valued at over $1.5 billion ($39.4 million each on average), a claim picked up by Agence France Presse. MosNews mentions a figure of $850 million ($22.3 million each avg.), while RIA-Novosti reports the cost of the contract at “about $1 billion.”
As a yardstick, a recent deal with Jordan for the stretched IL-76MF (fully westernized version) worked out to about $50 million per plane. The cost of a comparable American C-17 is about $160 million, the Airbus A400M will cost about $100-120 million each, and a C-130J Hercules costs about $66 million. As yet, Rosoboronexport has not released an official statement.
Pravda reports that work will be performed at the Tashkent aviaplant, and 90% of the components will be imported from Russia. Confirmation of the deal came a day after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and his Chinese counterpart, Cao Gangchuan, had met President Vladimir Putin in Sochi to discuss military cooperation.