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The Indian Air Force (IAF) is in the process of conducting a comprehensive evaluation to determine the requirements for the procurement of 80-100 Medium Transport Aircraft (MTA) that will serve as replacements for the ageing fleet of over 100 Soviet-era An-32 Transporters. These replacements are expected to enter service from 2030 onwards. HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited), India’s state-owned aerospace and defence company, is eagerly awaiting the results of this evaluation to understand the specific load-carrying capabilities desired by the IAF.

Earlier this year, the IAF issued a Request for Information (RFI) that outlined a rather vague load-carrying capacity requirement of 18-27 tonnes. This left room for ambiguity, as only two of the three aircraft on offer met this criterion. However, the recent acquisition of the C-295 from Airbus by the IAF, which falls into the same category as the An-32, suggests that the MTA may require a load-carrying capacity of over 30-35 tons. This, in turn, could lead to only one transporter qualifying, which is the A400.

HAL’s management is poised to make informed decisions once the IAF report is released, outlining the precise load-carrying capabilities that the IAF desires. Based on this report, HAL will explore potential collaborations with international Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to co-produce a Transport aircraft that aligns with the IAF’s requirements.

The recent loss of production rights for the C-295 to the private sector Tata Group has also prompted HAL to consider developing a new Transporter based on its design. HAL possesses some experience in working on the Indo-Russian MTA (Multirole Transport Aircraft) concept, which was discontinued due to differences in the choice of the engine.

This procurement initiative signifies India’s commitment to modernizing its transport aircraft fleet, ensuring it remains operationally efficient and aligned with contemporary military requirements. The final decision on the MTA procurement will be based on a combination of factors, including load-carrying capacity, performance, cost-effectiveness, and the potential for international collaboration, making it a significant milestone in India’s ongoing efforts to enhance its defence capabilities.

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