Defence ministry believed to be launch customer for Indo-Russian transport, full rate development is set for next year

The Indian/Russian team working on the new Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA) programme says it has won its first contract for 50 firm orders and 100 options.

The deal enables the consortium to launch full-scale development of the aircraft, formerly known as the Il-214, in the second quarter of next year.

Although the identity of the customer has not been revealed, indications point to the Indian defence ministry. The order follows a framework agreement signed earlier this year by Indian and Russian governments to fund development 50:50.

The Irkursk Aircraft Production Organisation (IAPO) is to provide the bulk of the Russian investment. Ilyushin participation is to be limited to design work.

IAPO chairman Aleksei Fiodorov, says the MTA programme is "to be no less ambitious than the Su-30MKI fighter" which calls for licence production in India of 140 aircraft over 17 years.

As with the fighter, MTA work will be led by Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) and IAPO. Flight tests on the MTA prototypes are set for 2005-6 with completion of first production aircraft in 2007.

Two production lines will be established, one in Irkutsk, Russia and the other in Bangalore, India, to produce 100-200 aircraft for the Indian air force and 200-300 for other countries, over 20 years.

Russia's defence ministry and ministry for state emergencies are working on the specification for its version, set to keep the Il-214 name.

IAPO has signed an agreement with Russian state arms-trade agency Rosoboron export on marketing the aircraft worldwide and is talking to HAL on marketing policy in third-party countries. A Russian-Indian joint venture will be created to market the aircraft.

A preliminary specification calls for a twinjet aircraft able to transport 12-15t (26,400-33,000lb) over 2,500km (1,350nm) with a 5,000km ferry range. The Il-214 is likely to have Russian engines with avionics supplied by Russian Avionics, an IAPO subsidiary.

Meantime, IAPO is less optimistic about the proposed 100-seat passenger version as this would require unjustifiable investment.

Source: Flight International