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Reliance Defence, Ukraine's Antonov plan JV for aircraft

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NEW DELHI (PTI): Reliance Defence on Thursday said it will enter into a joint venture with Ukraine's Antonov, makers of AN 32 aircraft in service with the IAF, in the field of transport aircraft for military and civil uses.

"Reliance Defence Ltd along with Ukraine based State Corporation Antonov have agreed to cooperate on dual version transport aircraft for Military, Para military and Commercial use in India," the Anil Ambani-led group said in a statement.

The JV proposal comes at a time when India is in the midst of acquiring new transport aircraft and is in the process of upgrading the 105-strong fleet of AN 32, the country's primary transport aircraft.

There is requirement of more than 500 aircraft in different roles and the market size is expected to exceed Rs 35,000 crore over next 15 years, the Reliance Group said.

In May last year, the government has cleared the lone bid of Airbus-TATA consortium for replacing Indian Air Force's fleet of ageing Avro transport aircraft for Rs 11,930 crore.

Interestingly, Antanov had stayed away from the bid but later wrote to the Defence Ministry with a proposal to set up a base in India.

The IAF's plan to upgrade the AN 32 aircraft had run into trouble due to Ukraine's deteriorating relations with Russia.

It is hoped that if a joint venture is indeed signed and implemented, problems with the upgrade could be resolved.

The upgrade of the aircraft will include air collision avoidance system, ground proximity warning system, satellite navigation system, distance-measuring equipment and new radar among others.

The JV envisages design and manufacture of the medium lift dual use turbofan aircraft in India with transfer of niche technologies.

"This will be located at India's first integrated Aerospace Park at Mihan, Nagpur. The programme valued at over Rs 35,000 crore is estimated to generate employment for over 7,000 people in the primary and secondary industrial sectors in the region," the statement said.

An agreement was reached between Anil Ambani, Chairman of the Reliance Group and Oleg Gladkovskyi, Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine and the Chairman of the Inter-Agency Committee of Ukraine for Military Technical Cooperation and Export Control Policy on the sidelines of the Defence Expo at Goa.

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