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This article first appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.
NEW DELHI -- India has issued a request for proposals for 56 cargo aircraft to replace its air force's aging fleet of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.-built Hawker Siddeley 748M Avro aircraft, according to a defense ministry official.
Under the deal, the first 16 aircraft will be directly procured from the chosen foreign vendor, which will then have to partner with an Indian firm that will manufacture the remaining 40. Out of those 40, 16 must have 30% indigenous components, while 24 must have 60% locally procured parts, the official says.
The Indian air force (IAF) is looking at several options including IL-114 variants from the Russian Ilyushin Aviation Complex, Ukrainian An-148 Antonov, the twin-turboprop European EADS Casa C-295 and Italian Alenia C-27J Spartan medium-sized military transport aircraft.
"The RFP made it clear to foreign players that they will have to select an Indian partner for this project," the official tells Aviation Week. The first aircraft is expected to be delivered in the next four to five years, after an official agreement is signed. The entire deal is estimated to be worth $2.5 billion to $3 billion.
The program is expected to boost manufacturing of transport aircraft in the country and bring in new business opportunities for Indian private players in the aviation market.
The twin-engine aircraft is planned to have a 6-8 ton payload capacity, cruise speed of 800 kph (500 mph) and a range of 2,500-2,700 km (1,600-1,700 mi.).
The IAF is estimated to be operating around 30 vintage Avro HS-748 aircraft, capable of carrying loads of up to 7 tons. The aircraft were inducted during the 1960s to transport both personnel and equipment.
State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) will not participate in the project because it is busy with the licensed production of Su-30MKI fighters and upgrades of the Mirage, MiG-29 and Jaguar aircraft for the IAF, the official says. HAL also will be involved in the licensed production of India's Multi Medium Range Combat Aircraft, once the deal for 126 jets is signed with France's Dassault.
C-27J Spartan Credit: Alenia Aeronautica