The IAF needs a replacement for its ageing Soviet-origin AN-32s. Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation says it’s ready to jointly develop the IL-276 medium-airlift military transport aircraft with India

Years after India and Russia pulled out of co-development of a military transport aircraft, Moscow has made a renewed offer to New Delhi. In response to the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) request for information (RFI) for procurement of a medium transport aircraft, with a carrying capacity of 18 to 30 tons, Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) has expressed willingness to join hands with India to co-develop its IL-276 medium-airlift military transport aircraft.

“We are speaking to our Indian partners for not only production and supply but also joint development of military transport aircraft. To prove that, we recently held a meeting with HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited),” said Yury Slyusar, director general, UAC.

The IAF is looking to replace its ageing fleet of 100 Soviet-origin AN-32 aircraft with a plane that has higher carrying capacity. The AN-32s in the IAF fleet are heading for retirement over the next 7-8 years. This is even after all planes were upgraded recently under a $400 million deal signed with Ukraine in 2009.

In early 2009, HAL had tied up with UAC to together develop the IL-276 military transport jet. But after seven years of negotiations, both sides parted ways due to differences over design, engine and workshare formula.

The Ilyushin IL-276 is a medium-airlift military transport aircraft currently being developed by UAC. It is designed to perform regular transport duties and also deploy 150 paratroopers or up to 20 tons of cargo.

The RFI was issued by the IAF last December and had sought a response from interested parties by February. The bid submission has since been extended till March 31. The IAF has stated that the submissions from interested firms should mention the overall timeframe of production and delivery, with stage-wise break-up of the entire project. “It is envisaged to commence deliveries of the platform within 36 months of signing the contract,” the RFI stated.

Earlier, some IAF officials were looking at the possibility of opting for the C-295 medium transport aircraft, which will be manufactured in Gujarat by TATA Advanced Systems and European firm Airbus Defence and Space. But the IAF reworked its requirements, which left the C-295 out of the race.