Thursday, September 9, 2010

Russia And India To Sign Medium-Sized Airlifter Deal


AWIN First Sep 09 , 2010
Neelam Mathews

India and Russia are in the process of finalizing a deal for the joint development and marketing of a Multi-role Transport Aircraft (MTA), AVIATION WEEK has learned.

This follows an intergovernmental agreement on the joint development of the MTA signed in 2007. Russia will hold a 53% share in the joint venture, while India will hold 47%.

In a parallel development, there is a report out that Aeroflot is looking for an Asian base — possibly in southern India — for a maintenance facility that could service the MTA, but this could not be confirmed.

The final agreement on the MTA was delayed when the Russian Finance Ministry refused to reinvest India’s rupee debt to Russia into the MTA project. The Indian air force also was not interested in a turbojet, according to an official.

“We are at the initial stage of the project. Maybe in six to eight years we shall have the prototype of the aircraft flying,” a senior Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) official told a Russian news wire in March.

India requires the tactical aircraft to replace its 105 aging Antonov AN-32s, and Russia has said it will need around 100.

The MTA is likely to be derived from the IL-214 twin-engine military transport designed by the Ilyushin Design Bureau. It will have a takeoff weight of around 55 tons, flight range of 2,500 km. (1,550 mi.) and a payload of up to 20 tons.

Last year India signed a contract with Ukraine for the life extension of the Indian air force workhorse, the AN-32, to increase their operational lives by up to 15 years.

The MTA will function as an airlifter for troops, armored carriers and possibly a mid-air refueling tanker.

Meanwhile, the Indian air force will receive its first two Lockheed Martin C-130J aircraft in February 2011 and the remaining four ordered by the end of the year. The C-130J is a multirole airlifter with night landing capability and also will be equipped with a midair refueling probe.

Meanwhile, there are only 15 IL-76s left and by the time the first of the 10 Boeing C-17s ordered by India gets inducted, the IL-76 will be ready for retirement.

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