India has taken the delivery of five upgraded Antonov An-32 transport aircraft which have been modified by from Ukraine’s state-owned defense arms export agency Ukrspetsexport. This is the third batch of the upgraded An-32s which India has received since the 2009 contract between the two nations. Following the overhaul, these upgraded Soviet-era An-32 transport aircraft will have an extended life of 40 years from the existing 25 years.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) and the arms export agency Ukrspetsexport signed the $400 million upgrade contract in 2009. The deal included modernization of 40 An-32 aircraft in Ukraine and another 65 aircraft at the IAF base in Kanpur in 2009. The first batch of five modified An-32s aircraft was handed over in May 2011 followed by a second batch of five in September 2011.
As for the modifications made by the Ukranian arms export agency, the An-32s now have updated equipment including collision avoidance and ground proximity warning systems, satellite navigation, distance measuring equipment, upgraded radio altimeters, new radars with multifunctional indicators, plus new oxygen systems and different crew seats.
At present, India has a fleet of over 100 An-32s and these are used for various military and humanitarian missions by the Armed Forces. While India has been the earliest customer of the An-32s couple of decades ago, part of the fleet was in dire need of upgradation to endure the various missions it is required for. With its capability to operate in hot conditions as well as its ability to operate from airfields up to 4,500 metres above sea level, the An-32 has been a boon for the IAF.
The modernisation programme of the An-32s of the IAF is the largest-ever deal which Ukraine has made with India. Meanwhile, India and Ukraine have been fostering defence ties after the Ukraine Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko visited India in late 2011. India and Ukraine have been discussing about coordinating efforts against pirates off the Gulf of Aden as well moving towards interoperability between the militaries through joint exercises.