The Condor has been in service since the mid eighties and this HUGE plane, second largest to the An-225 "Cossack" has become quite a familiar sight all over the world. But much like its USA-made counterpart, the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, the Condor is beginning to show its age after 30-odd years in service. Luckily Antonov has no issue with providing an update program, insuring that the majestic giant will remain a familiar sight all over the world for many years to come. BUT not for THIS particular user. Because Antonov is a Ukraine based company and these days the relationship between the Ukraine and Russia isn't at it's best to put it mildly, so both the Russian Air force and the Russian state airliner Aeroflot were getting "No" for an answer when they inquired about having their Condors updated. So instead the Russians went back into their archives, what other design competed against the Condor when the design competition for a heavy transport plane was issued? Enter that OTHER Soviet era name that everybody knows from airliners and cargo planes: Ilyushin. This is the Ilyushin Il-76 Candid, which has been in production since 1974 and has proven itself to be a dependable and versatile workhorse which found users all over the world. Even in the USA there are several airworthy examples used as fire bombers. A Candid being loaded, this picture revealing that it actually has a tail gunner position, which is one of the more unusual features of the type. Although with most civilian versions the turret is either removed and fared over or just with the guns removed because the tail position comes in handy when used as an air to air fuel station or to keep an eye on proceedings when doing a parachute drop. Back when the design competition which spawned the Condor started, Ilyushin basically went with what they're familiar with and their IL-106 design looked very much like an enlarged Candid. The Il-106 showed much promise but the Antonov was so much more capable that the Il-106 was doomed never to leave the design phase. A specs chart for the Il-106, the cutaway showing the main reason why the Condor was chosen over the 106, the Condor has a nose which can open from the front which makes loading it so much easier. But very surprisingly, the Russians decided that the one who keeps stuff around can still use it when needed. Because Ilyushin has now been given the Go-ahead of starting production of a modernized version of the IL-106. A decision which raised a LOT of eyebrows with propeller heads all over the world, because if we take that chart of the specs of the plane and assume they will go from there and then compare the plane to the Condor... Yes, the IL-106 is MUCH larger than the Candid from which it was derived but is smaller than the Condor and no matter how you slice it far a less capable plane. How this will play out is anybody's guess but it'll be worth watching out for.