Irkut and HAL Build Transport Plane
By WENDELL MINNICK, BANGALORE, India
Russian jet maker Irkut is working with Ilyushin Aviation Complex and India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) to build the Medium Transport Aircraft (MTA), part of the long-term Indo-Russian military-technical cooperation program.
Irkut makes the Su-30 multirole fighter, the Yak-130 advanced combat jet trainer and the Be-200 multipurpose amphibious aircraft.
“This is the first project we started with HAL from scratch,” said Irkut president Oleg Demchenko. The MTA program is funded equally by India and Russia, and so far $600 million has been spent on research and development.
The MTA will have a payload of 20 tons and a range of 2,500 kilometers at a speed of 870 kilometers per hour. It is intended to replace obsolete An-12, An-32 and C-130 transports beginning in 2015 to 2020.
It will be able to handle cargo duties, airborne drop missions, and possibly maritime patrol, becoming a major competitor to the Lockheed Martin C-130J, said Ilyushin general director Victor Livanov.
“The C-130 is an expensive aircraft,” Livanov said. “The price will be competitive, but it won’t be known until the project is finished. We have an agreement with HAL that a civilian cargo version will be discussed in the future.”
Victor Kobzev, general director of Irkut’s Beriev unit, which builds the Be-200, said, “The final price will have much to do with engine selection. Our MTA pilot project lists a number of engines from both Russia and the West. The final choice will be up to the customer.”
Kobzek said Irkut believes it can sell 200 MTAs to India and Russia, and 200 elsewhere.
Irkut officials also hope to sell Yak-130 advanced trainers to India. “We have been in negotiations with India about the Yak-130, but they have purchased the Hawks [built by Britain’s BAE Systems] and for the time being, they are satisfied now. After the Yak-130 is marketed in 2008, discussions might resume,” he said.