India, Russia sign multirole transport aircraft deal

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India's Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), Russia's United Aircraft Corp-Transport Aircraft (UAC-TA) and their joint venture firm Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA) have signed a contract confirming HAL's role in the MTA programme.

Under the agreement, HAL will undertake its share of design and development at its Bangalore Aircraft Research and Development Centre, while its Transport Aircraft Division at Kanpur will build prototypes and eventually commence serial production, HAL said in a statement.

Facilities dedicated to the programme are already being set up at Kanpur, adds HAL.

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

"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 said.

The contract follows an earlier agreement between the governments of India and Russia in September 2010. This agreement established that the MTA would be a 50:50 venture between the two countries, and also laid the ground for the joint venture between HAL, UAC-TA and Russian export agency Rosoboronexport.

In 2010, industry sources told Flightglobal that this agreement was long delayed owing to Indian concerns about the level of technology transfer that Russia was willing to provide with the MTA programme.

The MTA is envisaged as an aircraft with a payload of 15-20t. The HAL statement foresees a total requirement of 205, of which 100 will be 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, the discussions for which have already been concluded.

An image of the MTA posted on the HAL website, as well as a model HAL displayed at its stand during the Aero India show in 2011, suggest the MTA will be a high-wing design with two turbofan engines, similar to the Kawasaki C-2 and Embraer KC-390.

Russia and India are also collaborating in the development of India's Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), a stealthy design based on the developmental Sukhoi PAK FA.