SOURCE: RAUNAK KUNDE / NEWS BEAT / IDRW.ORG.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is looking to purchase 60-80 Medium Transport Aircraft (MTA) to be used as Medium Haul Transporters, for which it has already solicited bids from international aerospace companies that might agree to jointly manufacture them in the country under Transfer of Technology (ToT).
idrw.org has learned that whichever is selected will be used as a platform for the development of flight refuelling aircraft (FRA) and airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) as it plans to have more indigenous platforms to beef up its requirements as Chinese PLAAF expands its fleet of Force Multipliers.
The IAF will acquire six next-generation AEW&C Netra MkII Suite mounted on Ex-Air India Airbus A321 aircraft, which will begin induction into the IAF in the next 4-5 years, as the current fleet stands at six (3 IL-78 Phalcon, 3 Netra MkI) against a requirement of nearly 18-24 units on both fronts. The IAF had planned to purchase six 360-degree coverage AWACS based on the Airbus A330 platform, but this is likely to be rejected due to cost, as has been seen in the past.
The IAF operates six IL-78-based flight refuelling aircraft (FRA), but due to the fleet’s low availability rate, it is usually reserved for special operations or in the situation of heightened alerts. IAF intends to lease one FRA from France based on the Airbus A330 aircraft from the French Air Force and is looking to convert MTA into Mini FRA aircraft for long-term use in the event of war, while also considering HAL’s proposal to acquire converted six Boeing-767 civilian aircraft into mid-air refuellers for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The IAF intends to have 12-13 full-time FRA and 12-20 Mini-Multi Mission Tanker Transport Aircraft based on the MTA platform. The IAF’s long-term vision for the Force Multiplier is to have enough backup assets to use in the event of war while also building a full-fledged fleet over the next ten years.
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