The state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has signed a contract with Russian firm United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) to manufacture 205 multi-role transport aircraft (MTA) meant primarily for the Indian and Russian air forces. The MTA will be in the 15-20 tonne class and the project is estimated to cost $ 600 million. Besides HAL and UAC, another Russian firm - Multirole Transport Aircraft Ltd (MTAL) - has been involved as a third partner in the joint venture.
According to HAL Chief R.K.Tyagi, the twin-engine MTA will be designed, co-developed and manufactured for cargo/troop transportation, para-drop/air drop of supplies including low altitude parachute extraction system. The MTA will be capable of short landings and takeoffs and it will have capacity to ferry about 80 troops, infantry fighting vehicles, artillery pieces and ammunition.
Among other salient features, the MTA will have a glass cockpit for electronic instrument display; fly by wire controls and full authority digital engine control. The MTA t will have 800 km/ph cruise speed and a range of 2,500 kilometres without refueling. The MTA can also be used for battlefield medical evacuation.
As of now, the initial requirement will be of 205 aircraft out of which Russia will go for 100 aircraft and India will acquire 45 aircraft. The remaining 60 is expected to be exported to other countries. India plans to replace its vintage Soviet era AN-32 aircraft with the MTA.
With self-reliance as the main agenda, HAL will be undertaking the design and development of the MTA at its aircraft research and development centre (ARDC) and its transport aircraft division at Kanpur will manufacture prototypes and commence serial production after the certification process. HAL will also share the development cost of systems and manufacture of components, sub-assemblies and composite structure.
The current tripartite contract for the MTA was achieved following the inter-government pact signed in 2010 by the Indian and Russian governments for joint design, development and production of the aircraft on 50:50 cost sharing basis by the joint venture partners. The first test flight of the prototype will be in 2017 and regular production two years later. The joint venture will also work with Russia's aerospace major Rosoboronexport to co-develop the aircraft.