The transport fleet consisted of IL-76, AN-32 and HAL manufactured HS-748 and Dornier 228. Boeing 737 aircraft are used for VIP transport. While the IL-76 were used to provide the Air Force with heavy lift strategic capabilities, AN-32 and HS-748 were used for training besides their operational role of air maintenance and communication.
ANTONOV aircraft are well-known in India. Their epoch started in India 50 years ago with the first delivery of the AN-12 transport aircraft. In total, India purchased 46 AN-12s, which were widely employed both in the national defense sector and in the civil transportation system. ANTONOV’s specialists rendered great help to their Indian colleagues in mastering the AN-12 aircraft operation and maintenance. Joint creation of the AN-32 military transport aircraft marked a new stage in the cooperation between ANTONOV and India. These airplanes successfully perform tasks for India’s military organisations. Moreover, AN-32 is often the only aircraft capable of providing a connection between mountain settlements and big cities. Enterprises of India and Ukraine united efforts in the modernisation of 105 AN-32s for the Indian Air Force.
In 2003, the Indian government signed a deal with the Brazilian aircraft manufacturere, Embraer, for 5 of its Legacy Jets for the purpose of transporting VIPs. These jets would replace the aging AVRO HS 748 planes. Four of the Legacy jets would go to the IAF and the remaining one to the MInistry of Home Affairs for use by the Border Security Force. Delivery of the jets commenced in 2005.
In early 2008 the Cabinet Committee on Security cleared an Indian Air Force proposal to acquire all-weather 24-hours troop transportation aircraft from the US in a deal estimated at about $1 billion. The IAF signed an agreement for six Lockheed Martin C-130Js transport aircraft in early March 2008. Defence Minister A K Antony told the Lok Sabha the estimated value of the aircraft along with associated ground support equipment, ground handling equipment and the role equipment was in $962,454,677 US. The delivery of these aircraft was completed by December 2011.
Together with the raising of No. 77 Squadron, named 'Veiled Vipers', the Indian Air Force (IAF) inducted the first C-130J-30 Super Hercules aircraft, procured from the United States of America (USA), into service at IAF's Hindan airbase. Adopting 'Kill with Stealth' as their motto, the tactical airlift aircraft will be able to undertake quick deployment of 'Special Forces' in all weather conditions including airdrops and landings on unprepared or semi-prepared surface even in complete darkness. Capable of undertaking low-level air-to-air refueling to enhance its range, rapid forward basing of personnel and equipment in emergent situations would be one of its multifaceted roles.
The war-time employability will include special air operations, airborne operations, air transported operations, air supply operations, air maintenance operations and casualty evacuation among other roles. The peacetime roles include operations and air maintenance in mountainous terrain in adverse circumstances, UN or multinational missions, humanitarian assistance including disaster relief and evacuation of Indian Diaspora during emergencies and crisis situations.
AN-32 Medium Transport Aircraft (MTA)
A contract for Total Technical Life Extension, Overhaul and Re-equipment of AN-32 fleet was concluded in July 2009 with Spets Techno Export, Ukraine to overhaul and upgrade these planes, as part of the IAF fleet management approach. The project includes calendar life extension upto 40 years, overhaul and re-equipment of AN-32 aircraft. There were no conditionalities at the time of acquisition of AN-32 with the Russian Government.
Ukraine’s UkrOboronProm delivered a third shipment of five upgraded An-32 military transport aircraft to India in early 2012, and declared its ability to meet further deliveries as scheduled. According to the contract, UkrOboronProm would support modernization of 105 An-32 military transport aircraft for the Indian Air Forces. Of those, 40 aircraft will be upgraded in Ukraine and 65 in India. The first lot of 5 modernized aircraft departed to India in May 2011; a second delivery took place in September 2011.
AN-32 aircraft, the backbone of transport fleet of IAF, operational since 1984, has flown more than eight lakh hours on various missions. To overcome maintenance challenges due to ageing and obsolescence while still left with airframe hours and number of landings led IAF to conceive mid-life upgrade in 2005, and contract finalised in June 2009.
The project envisages TTLE from existing 25 to 40 years, overhaul and re-equipment of 40 aircraft at designer certified plants in Ukraine of 10 aircraft annually and supply of material and 'transfer of technology' (ToT) for upgrade of 64 remaining aircraft at IAF's No. 1 Base Repair Depot (BRD) at Kanpur. The upgrade at Kiev is expected to be completed by March 2014 and upgrade at 1 BRD by March 2017.
The special features of AN-32 RE include modification in cockpit layout, upgraded avionics equipment, noise and vibration reduction enhancing crew comfort, reliability and maintainability of the aircraft. Sharing the experience of the aircrew flying the upgraded aircraft fitted from Kiev to India via Ankara, Cairo, Jeddah, Doha and UAE, Gp Capt RC Mohile, one of the Captains of the AN-32 RE and the team leader described that the new navigational equipment proved extremely useful and made the complex navigation process involved on the international route easy to negotiate.
C-17 Globemaster III
On 23 April 2010 the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified the US Congress on of a possible Foreign Military Sale to India of 10 Boeing C-17 GLOBEMASTER III aircraft and associated equipment, parts, and logistical support for an estimated cost of $5.8 billion. The Government of India (GOI) requested a possible sale of 10 Boeing C-17 GLOBEMASTER III aircraft, 45 F117-PW-100 engines (40 installed and 5 spare engines), 10 AN/ALE-47 Counter-Measures Dispensing Systems, 10 AN/AAR-47Missile Warning Systems, spare and repairs parts, repair and return, warranty, pyrotechnics, flares, other explosives, aircraft ferry and refueling support, crew armor, mission planning system software, communication equipment and support, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, U.S. Government and contractor technical, engineering, and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $5.8 billion.
In June 2011 India's Ministry of Defence signed an agreement with the United States government to acquire 10 C-17. The deal was the largest defense contract to date by the Indian government with the US. India would take delivery of the first C-17 in June 2013. The Indian Air Force would have all the 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III airlifters by August 2014.
India would likely use these aircraft to replace its aging aircraft and associated supply chain with new and highly reliable aircraft. The acquisition of these C-17s would not present a new capability for the Indian Air Force, but would offer an increase in airlift capacity, reliability, and safety. The C-17 would increase the ability of the GOI to mobilize troops and equipment within the country and would enable India to provide significantly increased humanitarian assistance and disaster relief support within the region. Additionally, the C-17s would facilitate enhanced standardization with the United States. India will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces.
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