SOURCE: SRINIVAS GOWDA/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
HAL has entered into an MoU with Israel Aerospace Industries to convert civil (passenger) aircraft into Multi-Mission Tanker Transport aircraft in India. IAI has experience in converting pre-owned B767 aircraft into aerial tankers for a variety of different military missions but after the sale of Air India to the TATA Groups, the Indian government is left with only four B747-400 that were held and were not part of the deal.
Alliance Air, a fully-owned subsidiary of Air India, was not part of the privatization process and has a fleet of 18 ATR 72-600 aircraft and it is unlikely they can operate B747-400 on domestic routes in India, which leaves a question mark on why Indian Government had retained four B747-400.
B747-400 can be used as Special Freighter since the aircraft holds superb payload and range capabilities but B747-400 is a four-engine plane that is known for its versatility and can survive on three engines and one of its engines can be replaced with one the engines with an experimental model and can aid India in development of the 125kN engine that will be under development for countries 5th generation AMCA program as Flying Testbed since recently Rolls-Royce also turned a 747-400 into a Flying Lab for the New Engine developmental program.
747-400 cant be used as an Air tanker due to limited runways that can handle its operations and also because such attempts in past have failed to get desired results but Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) will convert 30 A330-300 aircraft from passenger to freighter configuration between 2025 and 2028 that will give them enough experience in working with the Aero-Structure of the aircraft.
Interestingly company that has awarded IAI the contract is Avolon, the third-largest aircraft leasing company in the world, with a fleet of 837 aircraft and might have some spare A330 that can be used by IAF for its Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) requirements. IAF chief recently had confirmed that one A330 will be acquired on long term lease from French Air Force and the rest 5 might be acquired from leasing companies or the surplus stocks that many airline companies are trying to get rid of due to the slowdown in International routes.
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