Bangalore: Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) will manufacture a Multi-role Transport Aircraft (MTA) with a Russian partner primarily for the Indian and Russian air forces, the state-run defence behemoth said on Tuesday.

'The twin-engine aircraft in 15-20 tone class will be designed, co-developed and manufactured for cargo/troop transportation; para-drop/air drop of supplies, including low altitude parachute extraction system,' HAL chairman R.K. Tyagi said in a statement here.

As per current estimates, the initial requirement will be 205 aircraft - 100 for Russia, 45 for India to replace its vintage Soviet era AN-32 aircraft and the remaining 60 to be sold to third countries.

In its transport fleet, the IAF has about 100 AN-32, including some overhauled and upgraded versions.

To execute the USD600-million defence project, the USD2.6-billion HAL entered into a contract here Monday with United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) of Russia and the 50:50 joint venture they have set up - Multirole Transport Aircraft Ltd.

Capable of short landings and takeoffs, the aircraft will have capacity to ferry about 80 troops, infantry fighting vehicles, artillery pieces and ammunition and can be deployed for battlefield medical evacuation.

With a glass cockpit for electronic instrument displays, fly by wire controls and full authority digital engine control, the aircraft will have 800kmph cruise speed and a range of 2,500km without refuelling.

HAL will design and develop the MTA at its aircraft research and development (ARDC) centre in this tech hub, while its transport aircraft division at Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh will manufacture prototypes and commence serial production after the certification process.

'Our objective is to achieve self-reliance in design, development and production of a MTA and manage the programme with international collaboration and global suppliers,' Tyagi said.

The first test flight of the prototype will be in five years (2017) and regular production two years later (2019).

HAL will also share the development cost of systems and manufacture of components, sub-assemblies and composite structure.

The tripartite contract was based on the inter-government pact signed in September 2010 by the Indian and Russian governments for joint design, development and production of the aircraft on cost sharing basis by the joint venture partners.

The joint venture will also work with Russia's aerospace major Rosoboronexport to co-develop the aircraft.

'We will showcase our expertise in designing the aircraft and its systems, manufacturing and flight testing in collaboration with our Russian partners in Moscow and India,' Tyagi said.

The Kanpur facility had manufactured transport aircraft such as Avros HS-748 and Dornier Do-228 in the past for the services.

In all, the company manufactured 89 Avros from 1964 to 1984 and 116 Dorniers from 1984 to March 2012.

Two Dorniers were exported to Mauritius, while one export order to Seychelles is under execution.


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