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Ukraine to jointly develop transport aircraft with India

Antonov-148 commercial aircraft. A File Photo.

NEW DELHI (PTI): In a bid to strengthen their military ties, Ukraine has offered to jointly develop a medium weight transport aircraft with India.

"Ukraine has offered to jointly produce a 10-12 tonne class weight aircraft with us based on their already existing Antonov-148 commercial aircraft and the proposal is being considered by the government," Defence Ministry officials told PTI.

The payload carrying capacity of the proposed aircraft -- An-178, offered by the Ukrainians to the Indian Air Force, will be between that of the C-130J and the force's workhorse An-32 aircraft, they added.

The C-130J Hercules, which will be delivered to India in the first quarter next year, can carry around 20 tonnes and the An-32s can carry a payload of around six tonnes.

If the Ukrainian proposal is approved, this will be the second such co-development programme for transport aircraft after India and Russia signed a contract for developing the Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA) few years back.

The Ukrainian government has also offered to manufacture and export the proposed aircraft to friendly countries, officials said.

The IAF already operates a fleet of over 100 Ukrainian An-32 aircraft fleet, which are currently being upgraded in the country's capital Kiev and used to operate the An-12 aircraft, which could carry around 15 tonnes.

During the Soviet era, facilities to develop transport aircraft were based in Ukraine and Kiev has maintained the facilities even after its break-up from the erstwhile USSR in the 90s.

In the recent past, the IAF has taken several measures to augment its transport aircraft fleet, which mainly consists of Ilyushin 76 and An-32 aircraft.

To bridge the gap between payload capabilities of the two aircraft, IAF will procure 12 20 tonne C-130Js from America at over USD 1.5 billion and co-develop the MTA with Russia.

It also plans to procure around 10 C-17 strategic lift aircraft from the US, which can carry over 70 tonnes of load.

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