Ukrainian aircraft-maker Antonov is poised to start work on an upgrade to the Indian air force's An-32s, with a first batch of aircraft scheduled to arrive in Kiev in early March for modernisation.
"Part of the An-32 fleet will be upgraded at the BRD-1 [base repair depot number one] of the Indian air force in Kanpur," says a senior official at Antonov. The facility is in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
The upgrade work involves all 105 An-32s in the air force fleet, and is being done in accordance with a contract signed in June 2009, says Antonov.
© Craig Hoyle/Flight International
The project involves fitting the aircraft with up-to-date equipment, including an "air collision avoidance system, ground proximity warning system, satellite navigation, distance measuring equipment, upgraded radio altimeter, new radar with multifunctional indicators, new oxygen system and improvements to the crew seats," the company official says.
Indian pilots will test the upgraded An-32s, the source adds, with the entire modernisation programme to take about five years to complete.
The An-32 is similar to the An-26, but features more powerful turboprop engines mounted higher on the wing.
"The An-32 light transport was created jointly with enterprises of Indian industry and in accordance with Indian air force requirements," the Antonov official notes. Its "main feature is a capability to operate from and to high airfields up to 4,500m [14,800ft] above sea level", he adds.
The aircraft can also operate under hot climatic conditions, says the official, adding that there are instances where the An-32 is the only aircraft available that can link India's high mountain settlements with its bigger cities.