HAL at heart of India's multirole aircraft programme

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India's Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) and Russia's United Aircraft (UAC) have signed a contract confirming the Indian company's role in the bilateral Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA) programme.

Under the agreement, HAL will undertake India's share of design and development activities at its aircraft research and development centre in Bengaluru, while its transport aircraft division in Kanpur will build prototypes and eventually commence series production, the company says. Facilities dedicated to the programme are already being set up at the latter location.

hal mta aircraft, billypix

 BillyPix

The high-wing design will boast a 15,000-20,000kg payload

"HAL will showcase its expertise in the design of aircraft as well as systems, manufacturing and flight testing while jointly working with the Russian team in Moscow as well as in India," it says.

Other HAL R&D centres and manufacturing units will also participate in the effort by developing and manufacturing components, sub-assemblies and parts of the aircraft's composite structure.

Confirmed in late May, the new contract follows a September 2010 agreement between the governments of India and Russia. This established that the project would be a 50:50 venture between the countries, and also laid the ground for the establishment of an MTA joint-venture company between HAL, UAC and Russian arms export agency Rosoboronexport.

A high-wing design with two turbofan engines, the MTA is envisaged as offering a payload capacity of between 15,000kg (33,000lb) and 20,000kg. HAL forecasts an eventual requirement to produce 205 of the type, including 100 for the Russian air force, 45 for the Indian air force and 60 for "third countries".

Preliminary design for the MTA will commence with the signing of an additional contract, for which the discussions have already been concluded.

Moscow and New Delhi are also collaborating on the development of India's fifth-generation fighter aircraft; a stealthy design based on Sukhoi's developmental PAK-FA.