Ahead of the annual Indo-Russia summit in December, both countries have inked a $600-million (aprox Rs 2,900 crore) agreement for setting up a joint venture company to design and develop a multi-role transport aircraft.
The new aircraft is proposed to replace the 110 An-32 transport aircraft in India. The JV will be formed between Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and Russian partners: United Aircraft Corporation & Rosoboronexport to co-develop and produce Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA).
The development cost will be shared equally by both sides. The companies in the JV will manufacture 205 aircraft in 50:50 partnership. There is also scope for exporting the aircraft, both for civil and military use.
The $600-million JV was expected to be finalised during Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin?s visit to India in March, 2010 to develop MTA for Air Force of both countries to transport 18.5 tonne payloads over 2500 km. The expectation was belied and both sides continued to bargain hard during negotiations.
MTA is a 15-20 tonne payload capacity Aircraft which will meet the requirements of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Russian Air Force. The main features of MTA are: Maximum take-off weight 65 tonnes, Payload Capacity 15-20 tonnes, Cruise Speed 800 kmph, Range 2500-2700 km, Service ceiling 12 km. The aircraft will have two engines, state-of-the-art features such as fly-by-wire, full authority digital engine control, modern avionics and glass cockpit.
In 2001, the protocol on the commencement of work on the development of a joint multi-role four-engined turboprop transport aircraft IL-214 was signed between the two countries.
While working out details of the MTA project and harmonising requirements of both the countries, the project was significantly changed from the Il-214 baseline and increasing the aircraft?s payload capacity and cargo compartment dimensions. None of the engines currently manufactured in Russia can be applied to the new aircraft.
The decision on MTA?s full-scale launch was made in November 2007, when a special agreement between the countries? was signed. This long-planned project will bring to life a next-generation tactical airlifter with maximum takeoff weight about 70 tonne and a payload capability of 20 tonne.
In March 2008, HAL clarified that the withdrawal of the Russian company, Irkutsk Aviation and Industrial Association as a partner from the $600-million, Indo-Russian MTA joint venture is an internal Russian affair and did not indicate a collapse of the project. Rosoboronexport, Russia?s state-owned monopoly liaison agency for the export and import of defence related and dual use products, technologies and services identified Ilyushin Aviation Complex as the new prime nodal agency in place of Irkutsk.
The MTA will replace the ageing Antonov (An)-12, An-26/ 32 turboprop transport aircraft which first entered service in the 1970s. While the IAF plans to acquire 45 of these aircraft, Russians are committed to acquiring around 100 over 12 years. The MTA was expected to fly in 2013 and be inducted by 2015.