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As part of its ongoing efforts to enhance its airlift capabilities, the IAF is now considering a significant shift in its plans to procure Medium Transport Aircraft (MTA) to replace its ageing fleet of Soviet-era An-32 transport aircraft. This contemplation stems from the evolving demands in airlift capabilities, prompting the IAF to engage in a comprehensive six-month study alongside stakeholders like the Indian Army.

Originally, the IAF had placed an order for the Airbus C295M Light Transport Aircraft as a replacement for the outdated Hawker Siddeley HS 748. The Hawker Siddeley HS 748 was chosen to take on the role of a medium-sized turboprop airliner, catering to the IAF’s transportation needs in the 60’s.

One of the significant changes in the IAF’s contemplation is the classification of the MTA and its cargo-carrying capacity. The Indian Army’s involvement in the study highlights the collaborative approach the Indian defence forces take when evaluating critical acquisitions. The study aims to assess the feasibility of procuring a Medium/Large Transporter to replace the ageing IL-76 transport aircraft, which have served for almost four decades and are slated for replacement by the end of this decade.

The proposed MTA aims to be a “Made in India” solution, aligning with the nation’s self-reliance aspirations. This endeavor poses a challenge, given that the An-32, which the MTA aims to replace, has a substantial payload capacity that is similar to the Airbus C295M. IAF might require Adjusting the Request for Information (RFI) issued under the MTA tender to accommodate larger aircraft that can replace bigger IL-76 transport aircraft, while C295M might also be used to replace not only Avro but also An-32.

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