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The Indian Air Force (IAF) is currently engaged in a series of feasibility studies aimed at determining the ideal numbers for its Medium Transport Aircraft (MTA) requirement. This initiative comes as part of the IAF’s broader plan to replace its aging fleet of An-32 Transporters, which were procured in the early 1980s.

The IAF’s Request for Information (RFI) for the MTA tender had initially indicated the potential requirement for 40, 60, or 80 units. However, insiders familiar with the matter have indicated that the final unit requirement will likely be fewer than 50. This adjustment in numbers is likely influenced by the IAF’s overarching modernization strategy and fleet management considerations.

One pivotal aspect shaping the MTA requirement is the IAF’s intention to replace its aging IL-76 fleet post-2035 with an acquisition of 30 Heavy Transport Aircraft. A notable contender in the MTA segment is the recently ordered C-295M, a light Transport Aircraft. While its characteristics align with the An-32 replacement profile due to its similar weight category, the IAF is determined to fulfill the specific needs outlined in the MTA requirement. This includes the ability to transport a 25-26-ton Light Tank into high-altitude regions – a capability crucial for bolstering the nation’s strategic reach.

To achieve these goals, the IAF is focusing on an MTA that possesses cargo carrying capabilities ranging from 25 to 30 tons. This adaptable payload capacity is envisioned to cater to a diverse range of operational scenarios, from troop transport to airlifting heavy equipment to challenging terrains.

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