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Fearing exclusion from the upcoming Medium Transport Aircraft (MTA) program, India’s state-owned aerospace giant Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is lobbying for the development of a completely indigenous cargo transporter. This comes amidst the successful execution of the C-295 transport aircraft order by a private company, a first for India.

Sources familiar with the program inform that HAL is advocating for the indigenous development of a new cargo aircraft. This approach aims to bolster India’s self-reliance in the defence sector and potentially create a long-term advantage in terms of maintenance and future upgrades.

The IAF Chief’s recent confirmation of replacing its ageing An-32 and IL-76 fleets with MTAs post-2030 paints a lucrative picture. This potential order book of over 100 aircraft in the next two decades is a prize any defence contractor would covet.

India’s withdrawal from the collaborative MTA program with Russia, where HAL was a key player, left the company without a pre-existing design for the IAF’s needs. Additionally, most foreign contenders responding to the IAF’s tender have decided to partner with Indian private companies, potentially sidelining HAL if they fail to present a compelling offer.

The Indian government and the IAF now face a crucial decision. Will they prioritize the potential benefits of an indigenous program championed by HAL, or will they be swayed by established foreign platforms offered in collaboration with private players? The coming months will be decisive for HAL and the future of India’s military transport aircraft capabilities.

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