India and Russia could sign a deal to launch the development of a 60t multirole transport aircraft (MTA) during Russian president Vladimir Putin's visit to New Delhi from 24 January. State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) is to hold a 50% stake in the proposed $700 million joint venture, with the rest to be divided between Russia's Ilyushin and Irkut, say industry sources.

Revealed in 2001, the MTA is viewed as a replacement for the Indian air force's Antonov An-32s, with the backing companies projecting a market to produce at least 200 aircraft for the partner nations. The joint venture could start detailed work on the aircraft by year-end, leading to first flight by 2012, says an industry source.

Representatives from Ilyushin and Irkut visited India last year to discuss workshare and design issues. HAL is likely to design the front fuselage and wing and the Russian companies the rear and centre fuselage. HAL could also help in developing the avionics. Engines could be supplied by Pratt & Whitney or Russian manufacturers.

Putin is also likely to support a Russian offer to supply the Indian air force with 126 RSK MiG-35s under the service's planned F-X competition. The type is likely to face competition from the Boeing F/A-18E/F, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16 and Saab Gripen.

Source: Flight International