Dramatic video footage shows a Malian Air Force Ilyushin Il-76 Candid cargo jet over-running the runway at Gao International Airport and subsequently exploding in a ball of fire. The incident took place last week.
The footage in question, which can be seen below, shows the four-engined airlifter — with the Malian registration number TZ-98T — descending before touching down on the airport's runway 06L on September 23. At present, firm details about the fate of the aircraft's crew remain unclear, although existing reports have suggested the possibility that some individuals may have been rescued from the wreckage.
Filmed from behind the Il-76 during its landing, the video shows the aircraft hurtling toward the end of the runway before careering straight ahead into the dirt, kicking up large dust clouds in the process.
Although the moments before the jet’s destruction are largely obscured by the aforementioned dust clouds, it is possible to see the aircraft’s stabilizer rearing up into the air in the footage. Based on existing photos of the wreckage in the aftermath of the incident, this point in the video looks to be the moment the Il-76 dropped down an embankment before exploding.
Why TZ-98T touched down so far onto the runway remains unclear, and questions have equally been raised as to why additional braking measures were not implemented by the pilots, notably the aircraft’s spoilers. As @thenewarea51 indicates, Il-76s also feature a reverse thrust capability — designed to deflect airflow from aircraft engines upward and forward when landing, thus minimizing the distance needed to stop — although this functionality wasn't implemented.
Imagery from the wreckage, beyond the angle of the video, seen shows that the crash and resulting fire rendered the aircraft completely destroyed. The exact number of individuals on board during the crash is unclear at present, although the Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives website notes that several casualties came as a result, and that a number of people were rescued.
Visuals also show a vehicle destroyed near the crash site, which may have been part of the Il-76's internal cargo. The precise details surrounding the vehicle remain unclear.
Open-source intelligence accounts have suggested that upwards of 100 Mali armed forces personnel, as well as fighters from the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC), were killed in the crash, although The War Zone cannot independently verify these claims. Mali’s military government has utilized the resources of the Wager PMC since early-2022, primarily to shore up its own domestic political position. The country has been grappling with internal instability for over a decade at this point, sparked by a separatist insurgency in the north in 2012.
Moreover, it has been suggested that, prior to its use by the Mali Air Force, TZ-98T was until very recently a Wagner-operated airlifter. That aircraft was the only Il-76 in service with the Mali Air Force before its destruction.
It should be noted that the Malian Air Force has lost a significant number of aircraft over the course of the past year due to both enemy action and various mishaps. Since October 2022, it has lost two Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoots and two L-39 Albatros jet trainers supplied by Russia, and a Hind Mi-24D attack helicopter obtained from Bulgaria.
While more specific details on the outcome of the incident have yet to be released, the new footage provides a sobering perspective on the Il-76’s fate.
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